Prolonged subfreezing temperatures, ice and snow forced a backlog of scheduled COVID-19 vaccinations across the state this week, but officials are optimistic making up ground will be quick.
It might even just take a few days of decent weather, Keith Reed, deputy commissioner of the state Health Department, quipped in a video conference call Thursday.
“The weather has been a setback, but only a temporary one,” Reed said. “We will make up ground rapidly and continue to get vaccine into arms of Oklahomans.”
Despite the delivery of 110,000 doses to the state being delayed due to weather conditions, Oklahoma’s overall vaccine supply has not been affected by the storms, Reed said. Clinics are currently operating on vaccine supply that exists because of the weather-related cancellations or clinics that were planned but never scheduled due to weather uncertainty.
The delayed doses are expected to arrive Saturday, which should be just in time to bolster supply for weekend clinics established to serve those whose appointments were rescheduled due to weather, Reed said.
Next week, an increased allotment of 137,000 doses is expected to arrive between Monday and Wednesday, which will include both first and second doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
As of Thursday, the state had administered a total of 681,466 doses; 204,069 of which accounted for completed doses. The remaining 477,397 primary doses await their second match.
Phase 2 priority groups, including Oklahomans under 65, teachers and school staff, will become eligible for the vaccine on Monday.
Reed said the state’s vaccine portal will open Sunday for Phase 2 individuals to schedule appointments Monday and beyond.
Before those groups are cleared, OSDH plans to offer additional clinics over the weekend to allow those 65 or older more time to schedule an appointment to compensate for the widespread cancellation of clinics during their eligibility period.
“Just because we’re opening the door to a new group, we’re certainly not closing the door on this group,” Reed said of Phase 1.
Local partners of OSDH, including the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, continue to reach out to homebound residents 65 or older in an attempt to get them the attention they need, Reed said.
Bruce Dart of the Tulsa Health Department reported Thursday that 50.4% of Tulsa County residents 65 or older have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.
THD has administered 33,826 vaccines to date, which includes 8,934 second doses, according to the Oklahoma State Immunization Information System (OSIIS).
Great care is being taken to ensure no doses of the vaccine are lost to weather-related issues, Reed said. Although some vials had to be transported to a more stable location this past week due to a freezer that lost power, “to this point we have not lost any vaccine that we are aware of.”
And the proximity of the two large shipments of the vaccine should not be a problem. Oklahoma has the capacity to store and distribute large quantities of the vaccine quickly; it’s the supply that is slowing operations, he said.
“I would love to have a problem with storage,” Reed said, chuckling.
Reed advised residents to keep an eye on the portal over the next few days for available appointments. Due to the rescheduled clinics and locations that are apt to change due to continuing unforeseen weather-related issues, such as frozen pipes and electrical outages, some “fairly short notice appointments” might appear on the portal.
More guidance for Oklahomans signing up through the state COVID-19 vaccine portal during Phase 2