Health officials share COVID-19 vaccine availability concerns, plans

Health officials COVID-19 vaccine availability concerns

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - State and local health officials are concerned about coronavirus vaccine shipment delays after Operation Warp Speed revealed they don’t have the doses they initially said they were holding back.

Oklahoma State Department of Health Deputy Commissioner Keith Reed said the federal government’s representation of vaccine inventory was misleading.

“As of last week, we were under the impression that 50 percent of our doses were physically being stockpiled in preparation for the need for second doses and that that was what was being released to us,” Reed said. “That was not the case.”

States have been receiving an unpredictable number of vaccines each week, making it difficult to have consistent schedules.

The distribution logistics may be complicated, due to scheduling and availability.

“If I get 86,000 this week, what needs to go to boost will go to boost, and we will schedule those based on an appointment system,” Reed said.

The Comanche County Health Department said they were under the impression that Oklahoma was set to receive more vaccines that would be for local providers like urgent care centers and pharmacies to help distribute.

They were frustrated by the disheartening news last week that that wouldn’t be the case. There are concerns that some could have to wait a little longer to get vaccinated.

“It may even be beyond that four day grace period before they can get their vaccine,” Combs said. “We hope it’s not, and if it has to be, we hope it’s not by much, but we can only do what we can do based on the vaccine supply that we have.”

She said they were hopeful those doses would take some pressure off the Health Department, but they are still going to work hard to get first and second doses to people.

“We’re going to continue to vaccinate,” Combs said, “and we’re going to continue to ensure to the very best of our ability that people are to fully complete their series, get fully vaccinated in a timely manner.”

Reed’s goal is to vaccinate at least three million Oklahomans in the coming months.

With the new presidential administration taking over Wednesday, Reed said they’re expecting some possible changes with vaccinations but don’t know exactly what yet.

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