Vaccines

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.

Courtesy Tulsa Health Department

Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

“We know that this vaccine is safe and effective, and we know that COVID can be a very serious illness for many people – and I don’t want to get sick. I encourage everybody to also get this vaccine,” said Dart.

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.

Mike Simons / Pool photo

State health officials are dealing with the sudden news extra doses of COVID-19 vaccine are not coming.

Tulsa Public Schools

In a partnership between Tulsa Public Schools, the Tulsa Health Department and the Oklahoma Caring Foundation, more than 100 TPS employees received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Carver Middle School on Wednesday. 

"There was relief, for sure," said TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist, reached by phone on Thursday. "Gratitude. A lot of tears. I think that this has just been an extraordinarily stressful time for everyone, and certainly for those who do fall into these higher risk categories."

American Academy of Pediatrics

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is getting ready to handle increased COVID vaccine shipments.

New federal guidance under Operation Warp Speed means in two weeks, states will get allocations based on how quickly they’re vaccinating people. Deputy State Health Commissioner Keith Reed says as of mid-day Wednesday, 4.6% of Oklahoma’s population had received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, among the highest rates in the U.S.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Tuesday he's hopeful changes in the way the federal government apportions COVID-19 vaccine doses could be good news for Tulsa County.

"We think it'll be very impactful," Dart said on a virtual press update Tuesday morning. "Especially because we know we have quite a few private providers who have signed up to be distributors of the vaccine to their patients as well as pharmacies and urgent cares. We would have a much larger number of distribution points."

Facebook / Tulsa Health Department

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma State Department of Health proposal that will make it easier for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children is being criticized by several state medical experts.

The leaders of the Oklahoma State Medical Association and the Oklahoma Alliance for Health Families, a pro-vaccination group of medical professionals, both urged the public to voice their concerns about the proposed change.

Tulsa Health Department

In a Wednesday afternoon press release, the state of Oklahoma boasted of being nationally ranked in the top ten for the percent of the state population which had received an initial dose of COVID-19 vaccine. “Oklahoma has a plan in place for vaccine distribution, and we are seeing the effective results of this, as we are among the Top 10 states in the nation getting our people vaccinated,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said in the release.

Governor Kevin Stitt Facebook page

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma State Department of Health has announced plans for coronavirus vaccine distribution locations in the state as it moves into phase 2 of vaccinations that will begin with first responders and healthcare workers who are not in a hospital setting.

CVS Health

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma agricultural research organization announced Monday it will donate 11 ultra-cold freezers to the state that health officials say will help expedite the distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

Tulsa Health Department

The Tulsa Health Department said during a virtual press conference Thursday morning that efforts to get nearly 14,000 "tier one" frontline health care workers vaccinated against COVID-19 are picking up steam.

"Based on the preliminary numbers that I've received, between the two of us we've administered at least 800 doses in Tulsa County as of yesterday (Wednesday)," said Alicia Etgen, manager of emergency preparedness and response at THD, referring to the department and Saint Francis Health System, the other entity involved in initial vaccine distribution.

Tulsa Health Department

While the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Oklahoma is being universally celebrated by public health officials, health care workers and medical leaders, they are stressing that the immunizations won't have immediate impact on infection levels and vigilance is still necessary to prevent unnecessary transmission of the virus.

"It is here to stay, regardless of our vaccination process," said Dr. Jennifer Clark of the OSU Center for Health Sciences' Project ECHO faculty team. "Masking is going to be with us for probably the next year to two years until we get appropriately immunized."

Courtesy Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation has started vaccinating health care workers at their tribal health complex in Tahlequah, Okla.

Pool photo by Mike Simons / Tulsa World

As more and more Oklahoma health care workers receive the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the state this week, medical leaders say providers' confidence in their safety is increasing.

LaWanna Halstead, vice president for quality and clinical initiatives at the Oklahoma Hospital Association, said on a weekly Zoom press conference organized by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition on Tuesday that somewhere between 30% and 45% of eligible hospital staff are currently scheduling their shots, up from around 24% who said they'd be eager to receive the vaccine six or eight weeks ago.

Courtesy Kassie McClung / The Frontier

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma City emergency room nurse on Monday became the first person in the state to receive Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.

Hannah White, 31, laughed before the vaccination and again afterward as she hugged the person who injected her at Integris Baptist Medical Center. She showed no reaction as the needle entered her arm.

“I don’t have any burning at the site, I have no pain. I didn’t feel it,” White said. She encouraged others to get vaccinated as they become eligible based on the state’s four-phase plan.

Our guest on this edition of ST Medical Monday is Dr. Jonathan M. Berman, who tells us about his important new book. That book is "Anti-vaxxers: How to Challenge a Misinformed Movement." As was noted of this work by Publishers Weekly: "Science professor Berman debuts with a useful guide for readers concerned about the opposition to vaccinations.... The book's greatest value comes from its insights into how common cognitive errors can lead even the well-informed to see false correlations between vaccination and health problems.