TULSA — While Oklahoma began Phase 2 of its vaccine program early in January, it turns out that a notification from the state that a patient is qualified for a vaccine does not mean they’re qualified to sign up for vaccination.
According to that plan, Phase 2 includes “Adults age 65 and older, and adults of any age with comorbidities.”
However, asked directly if those with comorbidities are currently getting appointments, Oklahoma Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed told KRMG Tuesday that has not happened yet.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, the Oklahoma State Health Department reported that more than a half million Oklahomans have registered on the OSDH vaccine scheduler portal.
The overriding factor driving decisions on who can get a shot remains the availability of vaccine, so the state has had to prioritize.
Currently, Oklahoma has received both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines, both of which require two shots several weeks apart.
However, the number of doses promised by Operation Warp Speed have not materialized, nor were the second doses held back for subsequent shipment, as had been promised.
“We’re not going to sit on that vaccine and hold it.”— Oklahoma Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed
Reed said Tuesday that has greatly complicated the logistics, and he was asked if he thought the people running Operation Warp Speed lied to the states about that change.
“We were given the impression, a very clear impression, that second doses were being physically stored. And our understanding now is that that policy, or that process, changed back in December. We were not told that that changed,” Reed replied. “So yes, as of last week, what I believed to be happening and what my team believed to be happening, indeed was not based on the facts. And those facts were not shared with us before. So you can put it in whatever terms you want on that, but yeah - I guess I feel a little bit, felt a little misled at that point.”
And, since the beginning of the vaccine rollout, Oklahoma only finds out about a week in advance how much vaccine it will have.
Reed says they’ll use the appointment system to ensure they have enough second doses on hand, before releasing any vaccine for initial doses.
To be clear, he added, “we’re not going to sit on that vaccine and hold it. But that does not mean we’re not prioritizing boost doses for Oklahomans.”