OKLAHOMA CITY — Last week's winter weather disrupted the state’s plans to give health care workers, first responders and Oklahomans 65-plus their necessary COVID-19 booster vaccination, a top health official said Tuesday.
Before the bad weather, the state was in a “pretty steady” pattern of providing booster doses three or four weeks after the first dose, said Keith Reed, the deputy commissioner of health.
“The week of bad weather kind of threw us off on that, and we’ve had to reschedule quite a few of those appointments,” he said. “And we are putting those appointments out based on the need, those that are coming due.”
Nearly 91,000 Oklahomans are now eligible but haven’t received the second dose that is required to achieve full protection against COVID-19, state records show.
In all, 11,206 Oklahomans are now 14 days or more overdue, said Buffy Heater, an assistant deputy commissioner of health. Another 19,603 Oklahomans are 7 to 13 days overdue, 59,969 are between zero to 6 days late, and 42,121 are due for their second dose in the coming week, she said.
The news comes as the state Monday expanded vaccine eligibility to more than a million other Oklahomans, including those with co-morbidities that make them particularly susceptible to COVID-19 complications and preK-12 school personnel.
Reed said the state must first prioritize the boost doses before the remaining supply can be allocated to first-dose recipients.
Oklahomans who receive the Pfizer vaccine must return for a second booster shot three weeks after the first. Those who receive a Moderna vaccine need their second shot four weeks after the first.
State health officials said Oklahomans could receive their second shot up to six weeks after the first without losing any efficacy. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend starting the vaccine regimen over if people are unable to receive their second dose within the six-week window.
The winter storm also further complicated Oklahoma’s vaccination efforts by delaying the arrival of the latest federal shipments of COVID-19 vaccine, Reed said.
He said the state did not receive any new vaccine supply last week.
The state’s latest allotment of doses finally started arriving Monday — days later than expected, Reed said. Additional doses also arrived Tuesday.
The shipment includes 24,375 Pfizer booster doses and 31,700 Moderna doses, Heater said.
Health officials also said the state has started to receive last week's backlog of booster doses that were unable to be shipped due to the winter storm. Those include 24,375 Pfizer and 24,100 Moderna booster doses.
Health officials said the vaccine scheduling portal is prioritizing second-dose only events, and public health sites are listing new appointments as soon as the vaccine arrives at locations across the state.
As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, nearly 3,000 appointments were available, officials said. All filled up quickly and continued to be in high demand.
Reed said health officials plan to open many more booster appointments within the next few days.
“We’ve been waiting on putting a lot of those appointments in the system to make sure we have the vaccine in hand,” he said. “I anticipate there’s going to be a lot of appointments available this week for boost doses. I would encourage people to look for those because this is the week we’re making up for what we lost.”
Janelle Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.