LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - COVID - 19 Vaccines for frontline health care workers could be arriving in Oklahoma as early as next Friday.
The Oklahoma State Health Department said Friday, December 11 is the earliest the first round of coronavirus vaccines could arrive in the state.
“Our priority 1 group is health care providers providing direct COVID care. We will ensure all Oklahomans, particularly rural communities are able to access the vaccine as it becomes available,” said Keith Reed, Deputy Commissioner of Community Health Services.
Those taking the vaccine will require two shots, with the second coming 21 to 28 days after the first. Private distribution centers have been set up across the state for vaccines to be sent to. From there, they will be distributed to various communities.
“Were looking at adding in pandemic providers around the state. Our anticipation is when we get further into this and start opening up to other phases, we will have a large network of providers around the state that will be able to provide the vaccine. We’re not depending on the public health system alone or large health organizations to be a venue to receive the vaccine,” Reed said.
The goal is to have those pandemic providers in small towns across Oklahoma.
“We have a lot of rural areas in our state that may only have 1 or 2 providers for a lot of people. We need those providers to sign up, we are not allowed to ship vaccines to them unless they sign up for this program,” said Oklahoma State Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye.
This first batch of coronavirus vaccines will come from the state and be strictly for frontline health care workers. But the federal government will also be providing additional vaccines which will go to places like the VA, The Department of Corrections, various Department of Defense locations and long-term care facilities like nursing homes.
“We have already notified the federal government that we want our long-term care residents and staff, we want that program implemented as soon as possible. We are set for that to be kicked off as soon as it is delivered from the federal government to those pharmacies,” Reed said.
That shipment will likely come one to two weeks after the initial shipment for health care workers. As for the rest of us? Currently, things are on track for us to receive the vaccine in early 2021.
“I’m very hopeful that we will be back to as close to normal as we can. There’s a lot of unknowns out there but no doubt, this vaccine is going to change the way we are doing things now and it’s going to make it a lot better,” Frye said.
“As for phase one for health care workers in the coming weeks, hospitals have their own plans for vaccinating their employees. At Comanche County Memorial Hospital, that starts with everyone who works around COVID patients.”
“Our employees that take direct care of COVID patients, that’s going to be our first obligation is to make sure we get all of them vaccinated. That includes nursing staff, physicians, respiratory therapists, ER providers and our ER nursing staff. Anybody that is in that room taking care of a COVID patient for a 12-hour shift,” said Heather Love, Director of Safety, Risk Management and Education at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Frye also said that just because we have a vaccine does not mean we are in the clear to stop wearing masks and socially distancing.