Leaders from the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced information Thursday about the arrival of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to Oklahoma.
The Pfizer vaccine is set to arrive by December 14, with ongoing doses being delivered regularly after the first delivery.
The Moderna vaccine will be delivered closer to December 30. The state will receive 33,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on the first shipment. Oklahoma will receive 10,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine on the first shipment, according to information released during a press conference.
“We want to make it clear the general public will not receive the vaccine in December. Health care workers, longterm care staff and residents, and public health staff who will be on the front lines and those helping provide the vaccine will be receiving the vaccination first. We anticipate the general public will have access in the first quarter of 2021.” Commissioner of Health Colonel Lance Frye, M.D. said.
A question was asked as to whether the Pfizer vaccine would be sent to rural areas because of the number of doses which are in a “pizza box.” A pizza box is what holds about 930 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Deputy Commissioner of Health Keith Reed said keeping the number of doses from turning into waste in rural areas is an issue.
“It’s something we had to take into consideration but if we plan well we can have multiple sites where we can reallocate human resources to those areas. This will help us send out multiple sources using the hub and spoke method to deplete inventory and get it into multiple locations at once in order to get the vaccine numbers down to provide for rural areas without waste,” Reed said.
“If the Pfizer vaccine shows up to a facility with 800 people and there are 1,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine whoever is around is going to get the vaccine. We are obviously trying to prioritize and get to health care workers first, but we aren’t letting any of the vaccine get to waste,” Frye said.
The federal government will be providing the vaccine free of cost to everyone. Vaccine locations can be located online when the second and third phases begin, Frye said.
“As we get into our next phases, specific communications will be released to the categories of the public to notify individuals on where to get the vaccine. We have an interface the individuals to go online to register for an appointment and to get the vaccine. We have a communication plan which will trickle down as we get to the phase of the plan that gets to the general public,” Reed said.
Frye said during the meeting faith in the vaccine has grown in the United States based on more recent surveys. He said two-thirds of the U.S. population anxiously is waiting, while the other third of the population is still questionin the safety of the vaccine.
Pandemic providers will be recruited from across the state to distribute the vaccine.
“We are recruiting and signing up pandemic providers, these are people in the health care system located across the state. This involves everyone from a health care organization to a private provider in a small town. We are signing them up as providers which gets them into our immunization registry to track the delivery of our vaccine. When we have sufficient volume of the vaccine, it will be distributed to the providers to give the vaccine,” Reed said.
“We need providers to sign-up, we are not allowed to ship the vaccine to anyone who is not signed up as a provider,” Frye said.
Storage for the Pfizer vaccine is vital due to the cold temperatures the vaccine must maintain.
“We didn’t have to purchase any new items (for storage). We did have a foundation donate 11 ultra-cold storage facilities so that we can place those in all of the districts across Oklahoma. We already had several facilities which had the ultra-cold storage facilities and we’re using those to our advantage,” Frye said.
Gov. Kevin Stitt later released a statement regarding the vaccine.
“The distribution of this vaccine is key to protecting Oklahomans’ health and safety, and ultimately ensuring we can keep our schools and businesses open in the long term,” Gov. Stitt said. “As we work to distribute the vaccine across the state, starting with our frontline health care professionals who are working hard to keep us safe and healthy, I encourage everyone to keep taking the precautions recommended by the CDC and healthcare professionals.”