OSDH confirms all of Oklahoma’s initial allocation has been successfully received from Operation Warp Speed, distribution of first shipments arrive in rural areas across the state
LAWTON, Okla. (Dec. 16, 2020) — State officials announced today that Comanche County Memorial Hospital has received its first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and that Oklahoma has successfully received all of its initial allotment of 39,975 doses from Operation Warp Speed, allowing distribution efforts to ramp up across the state. That includes 33,150 doses to five Oklahoma hospitals and 6,825 doses through direct federal allocations to tribal nations through Indian Health Services and the VA.
“As governor, my job is to make sure our state has the resources and support to get the vaccine to Oklahomans as quickly and as efficiently as possible — no matter where they live,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “Our team of health professionals and state and local partners is following a detailed distribution plan designed to reach all corners of Oklahoma, and I believe we can lead the nation on this.”
The first 7,800 doses arrived Monday morning, Dec. 14, at INTEGRIS in Oklahoma City, and an additional 9,750 shortly thereafter at Saint Francis Health Systems in Tulsa. The rest of the initial allocation arrived Tuesday and Wednesday morning at other designated healthcare facilities throughout the state, including Comanche County Memorial Hospital. Initial doses were administered to frontline health care workers shortly after arrival at each hospital location.
Laura Thomas, RN, an ICU nurse who has served on the COVID frontlines throughout the pandemic, received Comanche County Memorial Hospital’s first vaccine at 3:06 p.m.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma National Guard will manage distribution to 11 other locations across Oklahoma to ensure statewide access to the vaccine. The locations are not being released prior to vaccine arrival due to security concerns.
“The State Department of Health has been working for months with partners across the state to ensure a seamless distribution of the vaccine to rural Oklahoma,” said State Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye. “I am excited to see this plan come to fruition for our rural communities. Through the duration of this pandemic, rural areas have faced distinctive challenges, putting many at an elevated risk of contracting COVID-19. Our plan is equipped to address any challenges that may come with distribution and storage. We want to ensure Oklahomans in rural areas that the vaccine will be readily accessible when the time comes. We are committed to protecting the health and lives of all Oklahomans, and seeing the vaccine arrive at Comanche County Memorial Hospital today was a major step in the right direction.”
Not everyone will be able to access the vaccine right away. OSDH has developed a phased plan in close collaboration with local, state and federal partners at CDC and Operation Warp Speed to ensure frontline healthcare workers are able to access the vaccine first. OSDH anticipates that all Oklahomans should be able to access the vaccine sometime in 2021.
“Distribution is actively taking place across the state, but we want to remind everyone that we still have a long road ahead of us,” said Keith Reed, OSDH Deputy Commissioner of Health. “The first people to receive the vaccine will be frontline healthcare workers, followed soon after by long-term care facility staff members and residents and public health staff who are critical to the COVID-19 vaccination program. We need Oklahomans to continue doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 until a vaccine is widely available to the public later in 2021.”
As a largely rural state, Oklahoma has faced unique challenges in planning the logistics of distributing the ultra-cold Pfizer vaccine that requires a very specific storage temperature. By strategically placing proper storage equipment across the state, the National Guard will be able to address any logistical challenges and efficiently deliver the vaccine to every region for all Oklahomans to have access.
“This is a very exciting day for our hospital, our community and southwest Oklahoma,” said Comanche County Memorial Hospital CEO Brent Smith. “I want everyone to know how grateful we are that Governor Stitt and the State Department of Health made sure this vaccine was quickly distributed to all areas of Oklahoma – not just Oklahoma City and Tulsa.”
To view a copy of Oklahoma’s vaccine distribution plan and see a detailed breakdown of the plan’s priority phases, please visit oklahoma.gov/covid19.