Oklahoma to open vaccine eligibility to all residents
All Oklahomans ages 16 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting March 29, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
“No more screening for eligibility groups. No more need for personal contemplation about whether you’re eligible or should get the vaccine,” said Keith Reed, OSDH deputy commissioner of health. “If you’re over 16 and live in Oklahoma, you’re eligible and should get vaccinated.”
In a press conference Tuesday, Reed said vaccine eligibility will be expanded to phase 4 of the state’s vaccine distribution framework. This phase consists of “all Oklahoma residents who are at high risk of exposure to, transmission of, and morbidity and mortality resulting from COVID infection,” according to the framework.
Due to the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines’ age requirement, Oklahomans who are under 18 years old may only receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Vaccine appointments will be available to all Oklahomans on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination appointment portal starting Monday, and Oklahomans who have not registered are encouraged to do so, Reed said.
“Now that there are three vaccines available, and our supply is consistent and growing, we are able to continue opening up more access points to make the vaccine readily available around the state,” Reed said.
A fourth vaccine from AstraZeneca may be coming soon after a U.S. study found the vaccine to be 79% effective against symptomatic cases of COVID-19, including in older adults. According to the Associated Press, the company plans to file for approval with the Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks.
AstraZeneca could win emergency authorization as soon as the second half of April, according to Mene Pangolos, the company’s biopharmaceuticals research chief. If granted, AstraZeneca would immediately deliver 30 million doses and deliver another 20 million within the first month.
In addition to the state portal, Reed said Oklahomans can use the VaccineFinder website to locate available vaccines through local providers in their area.
He said Oklahomans who have received their second doses should wait at least two weeks before meeting with others, especially with those who haven’t received their vaccines yet.
“Before gathering with friends and family, remember that it takes at least 14 days following your final dose for your body to produce an optimal immune response,” Reed said.
The University of Central Oklahoma and Passport Health are continuing to offer vaccination appointments on campus for the UCO community. They plan to hold clinics weekly at least until the end of the spring semester. Members of the UCO community can expect to receive announcements through their campus email.
UCO students, faculty and staff who have received their final (or only) vaccinations are encouraged to self-report through UCO’s voluntary vaccination reporting survey. The form can also be found on UCO’s coronavirus website. The self-reported vaccination numbers will be reflected on the campus coronavirus dashboard.
According to the OSDH, almost 1.7 million vaccine doses have been administered in the state. About 1.08 million Oklahomans or 27.3% of the full state population have already received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“I want to remind everyone that this pandemic has required a marathon response,” Reed said. “We are poised to finish strong, but we haven’t crossed that finish line yet.
“If you haven’t been vaccinated, please take action to do so now. Let’s not leave this virus an opportunity to re-surge; shut it down.”