Getting a vaccine is expected to be easier by the month’s end, particularly with the approval of the single-shot COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.
Oklahoma has been doing well in getting residents inoculated, ranking No. 7 in the U.S. when adding the state, tribal and Veterans Affairs vaccine efforts. A bit more than 1 million doses have been administered, and the feedback we’ve gotten from people in the vaccination lines is that both state and local officials have organized them well, treated patients gently and got things handled quickly.
Still, residents are frustrated by the state’s health department portal, unable to secure an appointment or driving long distances to obtain one. A lack of vaccine supply has been the biggest obstacle.
That is likely to change as more vaccines are allotted to the state, including the latest given the green light by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will join those already in U.S. distribution from Moderna and Pfizer.
In a recent meeting with the Tulsa World editorial board, Gov. Kevin Stitt said the vaccine supply and demand situation is likely to flip soon. Instead of there being more demand than supply, supply will outpace demand in the state by the end of March or early April, he predicted. That would be a welcome turn of events for sure.
The state plans to prioritize the single-shot doses for hard-to-track populations, such as people who are homeless. It’s a smart approach to ensure vulnerable populations are not left unprotected.
The two-dose versions have impressive efficacy of 94% to 95%. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 66% effective overall, but prevents severe disease 85% of the time and prevents COVID-19 deaths at 100%.
The new vaccine is safe and effective. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted it emergency use authorization after a massive test that spanned three continents.
Its approval will help speed the pandemic’s end quickly and safely.
The most respected U.S. infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, called the three available vaccines “highly efficacious” and encouraged Americans to take whichever one is available to them. He estimates 75% to 85% of Americans need to be immunized to reach herd immunity.
Oklahomans appear to be taking that advice with such enthusiasm that the state hasn’t been able to keep up with the need, a problem that should be easing in a month.