In only two days, the Tulsa Police Department can nearly double the number of its force vaccinated against COVID-19.
Capt. Mark Ohnesorge said that about 160 appointments combined were scheduled Monday and Tuesday after OSU Medical Center called last week to say it had some available for them.
Until Monday, Ohnesorge said, about 200 of 1,000 TPD employees had been vaccinated with appointments through other avenues, such as the Tulsa Health Department or Saint Francis Health System.
“The pandemic has been a huge operational challenge for us as a Police Department, but we can’t really send our patrol officers home and tell them to work from home,” Ohnesorge said, noting the immunization appointments filled up in only a few hours. “We still have to respond to 911 calls; we still have to investigate crimes.”
The gym at the Tulsa Police Academy was set up for the vaccine clinic in a physically distanced manner, including two paramedics monitoring recipients for the recommended 15-minute window after receiving the shot.
Deon Anderson, a fire equipment operator with the Tulsa Fire Department, was seated in the observation area after his shot.
He said he’s looking forward to the vaccine giving him another level of safety with his family and when he is out on calls.
“I was kind of leery about it at first, but then as more and more I came to work and I saw my fellow firefighters getting it, I decided I better go ahead and do it,” Anderson said.
The state is on Phases 1 and 2 of its distribution strategy, which includes first responders and those who are ages 65 and older.
Victoria Phillips was one of two nurses from OSU Med who was administering the shots Monday. She said the most questions she fielded from people about to receive the shot was what symptoms were most common, if any.
Phillips said she got her immunization on Friday and could relay her personal experience of some arm soreness.
“I worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the soreness is gone now,” she said.
Ohnesorge described the TPD clinic as impromptu but hopefully something the agency can do on a semi-regular basis, dependent upon how the state’s federally-supplied vaccine allotment trickles down each week to various distribution points.
Field officers, dispatchers and other essential personnel have signed up, he said.
“It’s been a real game-changer for us,” Ohnesorge said.
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