State health officials shared more good news Friday on the COVID-19 vaccination front.
"Now that there are three vaccines available and our overall supply is steadily increasing, we are ready to open up vaccine appointments for the remaining priority groups outlined in phase two of our state’s vaccination plan," Deputy State Health Commissioner Keith Reed said during a virtual media.
Appointments will open Monday for the remaining phase two priority groups. Those include staff and residents of congregate settings like shelters and prisons, public health support staff, and many elected officials — a total of more than 21,000 people.
Reed said the state has made good progress toward its goal of offering vaccines to 89,000 teachers and staff in pre-K through 12 schools by spring break.
"We’re also well ahead of the goal set by President Biden earlier this week to vaccinate teachers by the end of March. This is a crucial step to ensure the safest in-person learning environment possible for our students and staff," Reed said.
Reed said progress is good, but there’s been a slight decrease in demand for vaccination appointments, possibly because newly eligible Oklahomans are waiting to give those they think need a vaccine more time to get one. Reed said when it’s your turn, make an appointment.
"This is kind of a metric that we watch, and we look to see are all of our appointments filling up, how quickly are they filling up? That helps us to understand how quickly we need to move to the next groups, because the majority of Oklahomans are still on the waiting list," Reed said.
Counting state and federal sources, almost 1.2 million vaccines have been administered in Oklahoma to date, with more than 426,000 people completing a two-dose series.
Vaccines could be available to phase three individuals sometime in April. Almost 1 million teachers and staff at colleges and universities, technical schools, and child care settings are in phase three, along with 1.5 million Oklahomans considered essential workers.
Health care workers, first responders, adults 65 and older, pre-K through 12th grade teachers and staff, and adults with certain health conditions are currently eligible for appointments through the state's portal, vaccinate.oklahoma.gov.