What We Know About Oklahoma's Vaccination Plan

Last Updated on April 9th, 2021 4:17 p.m.

The coronavirus vaccine has made it to Oklahoma. Federal regulators signed off on emergency approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on December 11th, the Moderna vaccine on December 18th and Johnson & Johnson vaccine on February 27th. Now, the state will carry out the plan officials have been drafting for months.

KOSU and StateImpact have put together a living webpost below of what we know about Oklahoma’s COVID-19 vaccination plans. Please bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates.

We'd like your input for this community guide! If you have any questions for our newsroom to look into about Oklahoma's vaccination plans text the word 'VACCINE' to the KOSU Texting Club number: 1-844-777-7719

There are four avenues we are watching for how the vaccine may be distributed across Oklahoma. Those avenues include:

  • Tribes that use Indian Health Service Clinics as their main health care provider
  • Tribally-run clinics and hospitals
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Health with a focus on rural access
  • Private sector providers such as Walgreens, CVS and doctor's private practices

Here's what we know so far: 

What is Oklahoma's current COVID-19 data to keep in mind?

KOSU keeps track of the coronavirus data provided by state health leaders. You can check back daily at this link to find the latest information: https://www.kosu.org/term/daily-coronavirus-update-oklahoma

What is the Oklahoma State Department of Health's plan for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Updated on April 9th, 2021

In the months between now and widespread vaccination, Oklahomans are urged by state and federal health leaders to continue wearing masks, social distancing and washing their hands. 

State health leaders announced on March 23rd that all Oklahomans 16 years and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine as of March 29th. The decision came about four months after Oklahoma administered its first coronavirus vaccines. The decision also means the state ended its phased vaccination program - which consisted of three priority groups and then the general public. The move expanded access to the vaccine to an estimated half-million Oklahomans who were not previously eligible. 

"No more screening for eligibility groups. No more need for personal contemplation about whether you are eligible or should get the vaccine," Deputy Commissioner of Health Keith Reed said. "If you are over 16 and live in Oklahoma, you are eligible and should get vaccinated."

On April 7th, state health leaders announced they were dropping the residency requirement, and opening the vaccine eligibility to residents of neighboring states and beyond on April 8th. 

"We are now reaching that point and are happy to extend a welcome to our neighbors as part of our efforts to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the region," Deputy Commissioner Keith Reed said in a statement. "This virus does not adhere to boundaries drawn on a map, so by ensuring high vaccination rates across the region — not just Oklahoma — we are providing an extra layer of protection for our residents."

State health leaders also wanted to remind the public that vaccine appointments are also available through many other local pandemic providers across the state.

You can take the online OSDH questionaire and use the state's vaccine scheduler portal to figure out what phase of vaccination you belong in here: https://vaccinate.oklahoma.gov

You can find a list of vaccine centers through OSDH here: https://vaccinate.oklahoma.gov/vaccine-centers/

You can also find a list of vaccine FAQs provided by the OSDH here

What is the Federal Pharmacy Retail Program and what pharmacies are participating?

Updated March 8th, 2021

Oklahoma health officials said there's roughly 190 pharmacies in the state that are providing COVID-19 vaccines. Those include pharmacies who recieve supply through the Federal Pharmacy Retail Program and  independent, private pharmacies the state is working with. 

The pharmacies that recieve supplies through the federal pharmacy program include some limited Walmart and Sam's Club locations, businesses within the Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services network and some Walgreens pharmacies.

Deputy Commissioner of Health Keith Reed said they've also been providing more than 30 private pharmacies with vaccine supplies through state allocations.  

Pharmacies will fillow the state's phased plan for who is eligible to recieve the shots. 

How do I schedule my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Last Updated on February 3rd, 2021

The state has outlined five paths for scheduling your second or boost COVID-19 vaccine. Those paths are: 

  • If you received specific instructions from the staff at the time of your first dose, follow those instructions. 
  • If you used the portal to register and schedule your first dose, use the state's portal to book your second dose. 
  • If you did not use the portal or register or schedule your first dose, you can still use the state's portal to book only a second dose. 
  • If you used the portal to register and schedule your first dose, but haven't received an email with a link to book your second dose, you can reregister through the state's portal. 
  • If none of these options work, call 211 and staff member with the state health department can assist in scheduling your appointment. 

More information and steps about these five paths are found on OSDH's Vaccine FAQ page under the question: "How do I schedule my second dose appointment?"

As for receiving the correct dose on your second visit, the state has been tracking who has recieved what vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) in their OSIIS system, which will let clinics and health professionals know which vaccine to administer. 

How many Oklahomans have received COVID-19 vaccinations?

Last updated on April 1st, 2021.

Data from the state's latest epidemiology and surveillance report

1,600,013 total doses have been administered in Oklahoma. This includes 595,030 people who have completed the full series, or both doses, of the COVID-19 vaccine. There have been 1,004,983 people who have received a prime (first) dose of the vaccine. The number of administered vaccines does not include doses administered by federal entities in the Oklahoma. 

The state's epidemiology and surveillance report now comes out weekly on Wednesdays. 

Has Oklahoma health officials identified any new strains of COVID-19 in the state?

Updated on March 3rd, 2021

State Epidemiologist, Dr. Jared Taylor, said as of January 22, 2021: "no significant presence of new variants of the COVID-19 virus have been confirmed by laboratory testing in Oklahoma." However, there were some initial tests taken from a small group of Oklahomans that results showed a possible consistentancy with the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 ('U.K. strain'). 

State epidemiologists speculate that the 'U.K. strain' is likely to be present and circulating in Oklahoma. The strain has already been detected in other states with local transmission. The 'U.K. strain' is more transmissible and will likely spread faster.

They say identifiying new strains would require sequencing the viral genome, which is an involved process that isn't routine.

Oklahomans are advised to take precautions to protect themselves and others by limiting exposure to others outside your household, wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing.  

NPR's Rob Stein reported on what you need to know about the different coronavirus variants here.

How many COVID-19 vaccines does the state have?

Updated on March 3rd, 2021

The state has been planning week by week on how many vaccines they can administer based on supply, which fluctuates.

State health leaders said for the week of March 1st, they are anticipating 145,000 doses, which is another increase in vaccine supply. On top of the increase, state health leaders are also having conversations on how to best utilize the recently FDA approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Health officials also refer to it by the name of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine arm, Janssen.

"We expect to receive 31,500 doses in the first shipment of the Jannsen vaccine," Deputy Commissioner of Health, Keith Reed, said in a briefing on March 1st. "This shipment should arrive sometime later this week."

Prime doses are considered the first dose adminstered, while boost doses are the second dose administered. Both the prime and boost doses are the same vaccine. Depending on which vaccine you get (Pfizer or Moderna) will determine how long from your prime dose that you'll recieve your boost dose.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose. 

What are Oklahoma's four phases of COVID-19 vaccination?

 Last Updated January 2021

OSDH has laid out the phases of their COVID-19 Vaccine Priority Population Framework here. This framework shows who are considered ‘priority populations’ for receiving the vaccine first. The framework’s phases are also subject to change depending on distribution of vaccines and other logistical factors.

Phase 1 began for the following groups in December of 2020: 

  • Long Term Care Residents, Assisted Living, Intermediate Care Facilities, Group Homes and Staff as well as CVS and Walgreens Staff administering the vaccine. (Estimated population of 62,000)
  • Health care workers providing direct inpatient COVID-19 care. This includes (but not limited to) Emergency Rooms, hospitals, ICUs and other workers 'inherent to the care of COVID patients' as determined by the inpatient facility. (Estimated population of 84,000)
  • Public health staff conducting front line COVID-19 pandemic mitigation and control activities. (Estimated population of 500)
  • Oklahoma state licensed Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics. (Estimated population of 11,400)

Phase 2 includes: (NOTE: Some counties are starting to vaccinate three groups in phase two, in addition to phase 1. Those groups are: first reponders, healthcare workers outside hospital settings, and adults aged 65+. You can call the state health department's COVID number: 211, for more information.)

  • First responders, paid and unpaid. (Estimated population of 5,000)
  • Health care workers providing direct, COVID outpatient care and services who either work in situations where risk of transmission is high or at an elevated risk (eg: dentists, death care workers, speech-language pathologists, etc). (Estimated population of 67,000)
  • Adults age 65 and older and adults of any age with comorbidities. (Estimated population 635,000)
  • Staff and residents in congregate locations and worksites. (Estimated population of 18,000)
  • Public health staff supporting front line efforts, senior state, county and city government leaders and elected officials. (Estimated population of 2,000)
  • K-12 teachers and support staff. (Estimated population 90,000) (Governor Kevin Stitt held a press conference on December 17 to announce he had directed OSDH to move this group from Phase 3 to Phase 2)

Phase 3 includes: 

  • Critical infrastructure personnel “essential business/industry” personnel as specified by the Governor’s 3rd executive order. (Estimated population of 1,500,000)
  • Teachers, students, residents and administrative staff in educational settings including but not limited to: Child care facilities, early childhood facilities, colleges, universities, career/vocational technology centers, and other post-secondary institutions as may be eligible for the vaccine. (Estimated Population: 932,000 *Note: The original population of this grouping was 1,022,000, but Gov. Kevin Stitt directed OSDH to remove K-12 Teachers and support staff on December 17 and moved them to Phase 2). 

Phase 4 includes: 

  • Open to all Oklahoma residents. (Estimated population of 556,500)

What does the term 'POD' mean and how does it relate to Oklahoma's Vaccine Rollout Plan?

Updated February 17th, 2021

The term 'POD' coined by state health officials stands for Point of Dispensing sites. PODs are being set up in coordination with local partners and county health departments. 

"POD locations will increase access points for the vaccine across the state and help us move into Phase 2 of the rollout," Health Commissioner Lance Frye said. 

POD locations will be led by county health departments but will be located at sites capable of handling large numbers of people. They expect the Moderna vaccine to be adminstered at POD locations, rather than the Pfizer vaccine. 

Who is in charge of ensuring Oklahoma has a plan for receiving and administering COVID-19 vaccines?

The Oklahoma State Commissioner of Health, Lance Frye, is responsible for ensuring Oklahoma has a plan for receiving and administering the COVID-19 vaccine. The commissioner will work in collaboration with tribal partners, independent and urban public health departments, federal entities and private providers across the state for the vaccination plan.

Another person you may hear quoted is Deputy Commissioner Keith Reed. Deputy Reed's responsibilities at OSDH are the state's immunization division, which operates the state's immunization program. He also works with the county-health department system which is responsible for county-health departments outside of the metro areas. Both of those responsibilities are two major components of the state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan.  

What is the Indian Health Service's plan for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine?

 Last Updated on March 3rd, 2021

American Indians and Alaska Native have some of the highest rates of COVID-19 infections in the country. Infection rates are 3.5 times higher than non-Hispanic and whites. In addition, AI/AN individuals are over four times more likely to be hospitalized as a result of COVID-19.  

Each of the 39 federally recognized tribes in the state will develop their own plan based on the larger CDC and Indian Health Service plan. Indian Health Service has been working with tribes for months to develop a plan and  administer the vaccine. You can find that plan here. Vaccination will be administered through tribally run health clinics and Indian Health Service clinics. You can find a list of IHS clinics here

Similar to the state's plan, the vaccines will be administered in phases:

  • Phase 1: Healthcare workers
  • Phase 1B: Frontline workers like police officers, first responders, people at higher risk for severe COVID-19 and elderly 65 years or older.
  • Phase 2: Continue vaccination of healthcare and other essential workers, elderly and other frontline workers. Start vaccination of general population (likely will not happen until Spring).
  • Phase 3: Vaccination continue on first two phases and hopefully will become available to the larger population.

In late February 2021, several Oklahoma tribes lowered age limits for COVID-19 vaccinations. The Cherokee Nation and Muscogee (Creek) Nation announced they would be opening up COVID-19 vaccination appointments to any Native person aged 16 and older. In a similar move, Osage Nation announced they would begin allowing Native individuals aged 18 and older to get vaccinated.

Indian Health Service clinics in both Oklahoma and Kansas have also lowered the vaccination age to 16 years and older, except for sites in Claremore and Wewoka where the age has been lowered to 18 and older. Non-Native household members and caregivers are included in those eligible. 

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Community Questions Section

KOSU sent a callout to our KOSU Texting Club, which consists of more than 1,400 people, on December 15th. We asked them for questions they have about Oklahoma's vaccination plans. Below are some Q&As from that callout. You can text the word 'VACCINE' to 844-777-7719 to submit a question of your own. 

"What is the window of time for the second shot? What if I can't get a shot that day? Can you get the booster before the 28 days or after?"

Updated on February 2nd, 2021

Depending on what COVID-19 vaccine you get, the recommended time to get the second (boost) shot after the first dose of Pfizer is 21 days and 28 days for Moderna. 

However, state health officials said when scheduling the boost dose, Oklahomans should know that inoculation doesn't have to occur on exactly the 21st or 28th day (depending on the vaccine). 

Deputy Commissioner of Health, Keith Reed told members of the media on January 15th that there is a 4-day grace period for receiving the second dose before it's due. He said getting it a couple days after should be okay too. 

"If your second dose doesn't fall exactly on that date, it's okay. You should still have a very effective regimen, approaching that 95% efficacy," Reed said. 

In late January the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said second doses should be administered as close to to the recommendation as possible. If it isn't feasible to do so, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine may be administered up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first vaccine.

"There are currently limited data on the efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series," the CDC website said. 

"What are the differences between the Moderna Vaccine and the Pfizer Vaccine?”

According to Vaccines.gov, “Both of these vaccines require two doses. The first shot starts building protection. A second shot a few weeks later is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer. Neither of these vaccines will give you COVID-19.”

  • For a list of translated Moderna vaccine fact sheets click here.
  • For a list of translated Pfizer vaccine fact sheets click here.

"If one is unemployed and doesn't have any insurance coverage - how can we get inoculated and how much will it cost?"

According to state health commissioner Lance Frye, the federal government is paying for the vaccine. It comes at no cost for anyone who gets it.

“Is the vaccine appropriate for us that have had COVID.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said because there are severe illnesses associated with COVID-19 and there have been cases of reinfection, but people may be advised to get the vaccine even if they’ve already been sick with coronavirus. 

 

"Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?"

From Side Effects Public Media (Find other FAQ questions like this here.)

No. The COVID-19 vaccine doses developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna ... have been in development for about three decades, but are only now being used for COVID-19. According to the CDC, mRNA vaccines teach your cells how to make a protein – or even just a piece of a protein – that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects you from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

 

"Do I still have to wear a mask once I have the vaccine?"

From Side Effects Public Media (Find other FAQ questions like this here.)

Yes. According to NPR’s Shots, studies of the new vaccines only measured whether vaccinated people developed symptoms, not whether they got infected. It's possible that they got mild infections — not enough to make them ill, but enough to pass the virus on to others. The CDC is calling for those who are immunized to continue wearing masks and practicing safe physical distancing until more is learned.

 

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