Oklahomans In Metro Areas Not Shy About Traveling To Find COVID Vaccine

Jan 18, 2021

Credit Pool photo by Mike Simons / Tulsa World

With more than 200,000 doses of vaccine given and more than 460,000 people registered through the state's online portal at last count, Oklahomans' interest in getting COVID-19 vaccines is high.

It's so high that people are willing to travel to find their shots.

"Twenty-five percent of the residents of Oklahoma County, as well as 25% of the residents in Tulsa County that have been vaccinated received their vaccinations in counties outside of Oklahoma County and Tulsa County," Deputy State Health Commissioner Keith Reed said during a Friday vaccination update.

There were concerns when the state vaccine portal launched that rural Oklahomans could be squeezed out of COVID vaccination appointments, partly because of poor internet access. In another blow to rural areas, the federal government does not have second doses of vaccine in reserve as states were previously told. That thwarts a state plan to start giving some doses to partners like health clinics and pharmacies that would not use the vaccinate.Oklahoma.gov portal for scheduling.

"We’ve got to work on getting more opportunities in those areas to make sure that we can provide vaccines within those regions so that our rural counties are more open to serving their local individuals. Every time somebody travels to get an appointment, that means somebody locally is not getting that appointment," Reed said.

Health care workers, first responders, and Oklahomans 65 or older are currently eligible to schedule appointments. The number of appointments each week is determined after the state learns its allocation of COVID doses.