Oklahoma Health Officials Expect COVID Vaccine Changes Under Biden But Haven't Been Briefed

Jan 19, 2021

Credit CVS Health

Better than one in eight Oklahomans — more than 510,000 people — have now registered through the vaccinate.oklahoma.gov portal to be notified when they can get a COVID-19 vaccine.

But how quickly the state can move past the 65 and older priority group is a question that can’t be answered yet.

Health officials were hopeful last week they could pick up the pace with news second doses held in reserve would be sent out to increase supplies, only to learn days days later the Trump administration had already exhausted the stockpile. For the next two weeks at least, vaccine shipments are remaining flat.

Deputy State Health Commissioner Keith Reed said the state has not yet been briefed by anyone from the incoming Biden administration on their plans.

"So, do we expect change with the new administration? Yes, we do. Do I know what it is? No. I don’t know what that change is going to be," Reed said.

There are more than 600,000 Oklahomans 65 and older who could receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Reed said the plan is to get through a significant chunk of that population before moving to the next priority group, adults with underlying health conditions. Without additional vaccine supply, getting to teachers who don’t also fall into one of those higher-priority groups will take longer.

Reed said  once it is teachers’ turn, it would probably be inefficient to take workers away from established point of distribution sites, or PODS, to go into schools.

"We’ve also had discussions with the schools about maybe setting up some special PODS to where they can come to a central point to get vaccinated, but we’ll continue to flexible and work with the schools on this. It’s a challenge, though, just like anything else with COVID moving forward," Reed said.

While there’s a rumor Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID vaccine may come up for emergency use authorization in February, Reed said he has not heard that from any official sources.