What We Know About Oklahoma's Vaccination Plan

Last Updated on January 15, 2021 10:46 a.m.

The coronavirus vaccine has made it to Oklahoma. Federal regulators signed off on emergency approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on December 11th and the Moderna vaccine on December 18th. 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 January 15th, 2020

OSDH has a working draft vaccination plan on their website here. Health officials have maintained that administering  the vaccine across the state is a fluid situation and subject to change. Those changes could occur because of supply issues or other developments. 

The state’s plan includes four phases - three priority groups and then the general public. In the months between now and widespread vaccination, Oklahomans are urged to continue wearing masks, social distancing and washing their hands. 

State health workers are continuing to vaccinate Phase 1 groups. Health officials also said the following groups in Phase 2 are also eligible for vaccine appointments: first responders, health care workers outside of hospital settings and Oklahomans who are 65 years and older. 

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

As of January 14th, the state's new vaccine scheduler portal had seen:

A total of 443,954 Oklahomans registered through the portal to recieve notifications on their eligibility. 

Of that total, more than 11,910 Oklahomans were in Phase 1 and 251,030 were in currently eligible groups in Phase 2 to receive the vaccine.

49,389 appointments had been scheduled by Oklahomans who were eligible to receive the vaccine. 

"Additional appointments are being added into the system and will continue throughout this week," Deputy Commissioner of Health Keith Reed said on January 8th, 2021. "We encourage people to continue to follow those links to look for available appointments." 

How many COVID-19 vaccines does the state have?

Updated on January 10th, 2020

The state releases a 'Weekly Epidemology and Surveillance Report' on Fridays that lists COVID-19 data, including vaccine information.

As of the state's weekly epidemology report for the week of January 1-7, 2020: The state had allocated a total of 264,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Health officials have administered a total of 99,373 vaccines so far. Of that number 94,701 vaccines were prime doses and 4,672 vaccines were boost doses. 

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. 

How does Operation Warp Speed come into play?

Updated on January 15th, 2020 at 10:31 a.m.

The federal government and Operation Warp Speed announced on January 12th it would no longer hold back second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, according to an article from The Washington Post on January 15th, no such reserve of second shots existed. The article says the Trump administration had already begun shipping out available vaccines at the end of December, "taking second doses directly off the manufacturing line."

When the announcement was made on the 12th, Oklahoma health officials told members of the media in a Zoom press conference they'd be anticipating to recieve notification of increased vaccine supply in coming weeks. The expectation of more vaccine could have meant an increased supply to expand eligible vaccination groups, increase points of access and share supplies across states as needed. 

Another meeting with state health officials and members of the media is scheduled for January 15th at 1 p.m. KOSU will update this section if there are any updates provided. 

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

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?

The term 'POD' coined by state health officials stands for Point of Distribution sites. Health officials said approximately 90 POD locations will be active as of this week across the state. 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 adminstering 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?

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.  Some tribes could get the vaccine on Wednesday, December 16th.

Cherokee Nation received their first 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from Indian Health Service on Monday, December 14th. Cherokee Nation plans to start their first vaccinations on Tuesday, December 15th. Indian Health Service says additional IHS locations will receive them on December 15th.

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.

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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 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.

As for getting inoculated, the state is currently working in phase 1 priority groups. They are prioritizing getting health care workers vaccinated by using an employment roster. Moving forward to other populations, state health officials plan to utilize the more than 250 pandemic providers that they've approved. You can see a map of those providers in the state here. Deputy Commissioner Keith Reed said they are still working on approving other potential pandemic providers that applied. 

Health officials are also working on an appointment app for the general public to use when they're ready to get the vaccine, which would be in phase 4. If people cannot use the app they can call a provider or the county health department. 

“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, people may be advised to get the vaccine even if they’ve already been sick with coronavirus. 

Experts still do not have a firm answer on how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.

Here’s more information from the CDC: “The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long. We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.”

 

"We have our first shipment of vaccines, but how many are we getting over the next several months? Since the vaccine requires two doses, does that number include both or are each counted individually?" (Last updated on January 4, 2020)

 

Health officials have maintained that administering the vaccine across the state is a fluid situation and subject to change. Those changes could occur because of supply issues or other developments. By the end of 2020, Oklahoma had recieved 174,000 prime vaccine doses (first doses) with an additional 6,000 through federal allocation. Second doses for the vaccines ship automatically. 

 

On January 4, 2020 members of the media met with state health officials over Zoom. They said vaccine supply numbers will be made available every Tuesday for the upcoming week. 

 

 

“I think the teachers should be vaccinated in the first groups. That would be very helpful for returning kids to school safely. Where are teachers in the priority list?”

 On Dec. 17, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced that Oklahoma's roughly 90,000 K-12 teachers and support staff would move up to tier 2 on the vaccine plan list. State officials said school districts would ultimately decide which of their employees were the highest risk and would be vaccinated first. The effort will help in reopening schools and will protect many of the most vulnerable school employees. However, students - there are more than 700,000 public students in Oklahoma - still make up the vast majority of people in school buildings. And they could still contribute to community spread. Keep in mind, no vaccine has been approved for people under 16 years of age. 

"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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