Teachers, school staff and Oklahomans of all ages with comorbidities are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The state’s online vaccine portal opened Sunday to members of the next priority group in Phase 2 of the state’s vaccination plan to allow scheduling of appointments as soon as Monday.
The group accounts for an estimated 1,089,000 Oklahomans.
Oklahomans under 65 with comorbidities include adults with one or multiple comorbid conditions including but not limited to hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease, Down syndrome, diabetes mellitus, chronic lung, liver or renal disease, cancers and those who are at high risk of mortality and severe morbidity in the case of a COVID-19 infection, according to the state.
Teachers and staff in pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade private and public schools are also eligible.
Gov. Kevin Stitt announced the transition to the next priority group on Feb. 11.
“It’s been two months since we received the first doses of the COVID vaccine and since then, we’ve come a long way,” Stitt said then in a release. “We are one step closer to giving every parent in the state the option to send their kids back to the classroom.”
Those in previous priority groups may still make appointments through the state portal, said Keith Reed, deputy commissioner of the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Acknowledging the setbacks of the winter weather over the past week as many vaccine clinics were cancelled, Reed said Thursday the state planned to operate weekend clinics in an attempt to cut down on the backlog of appointments.
He was optimistic then the catch-up would be quick.
A total of 110,000 doses delayed by the weather were expected to arrive in the state Saturday and an additional increased allotment of 137,000 doses is expected early this week.
As of Thursday, the state had administered a total of 681,466 doses; 204,069 of which accounted for completed doses.
Bruce Dart of the Tulsa Health Department reported that 50.4% of Tulsa County residents 65 or older have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.
Reed assured Oklahomans that although competition for appointments is bound to increase with additional eligible individuals, 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.
“Just because we’re opening the door to a new group, we’re certainly not closing the door on this group,” Reed said.
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