(Stillwater, Okla — Dec. 16, 2020) — The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer arrived in Oklahoma on Monday. Arrival of the vaccine comes just days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), clearing the way for vaccine distribution nationwide. Today, the first doses are administered in Payne County to frontline health care staff as part of Oklahoma’s Vaccine Distribution Plan. The most at-risk populations that will be on the front lines are included in the first phase of our vaccine distribution plan. Groups such as health care workers, long-term care facility staff members and residents and public health staff will be the first to receive the vaccination.
The Payne County Health Department continues to work closely with Oklahoma State University, Stillwater Medical Center, the City of Stillwater and other local organizations to keep the community safe, informed and healthy. Throughout the pandemic, the Payne County Health Department has worked hand-in-hand with Stillwater Medical Center in planning, testing, investigations, contact tracing, guidance, data collection and analysis, as well as communications. “We are very excited to partner with Stillwater Medical Center to administer the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Payne County to their frontline staff that have been working tirelessly during the pandemic serving their community” said Kelli Rader, Regional Director for the Payne County Health Department.
The first Payne County resident to receive the vaccine is Melissa Bell, a registered nurse in the ICU with Stillwater Medical Center who has been serving on the frontlines of COVID-19 since March.
To ensure our priority populations are the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, predetermined sites have been identified around the state that will receive initial vaccine shipments. For the purposes of security, we are not publicly announcing where the prepositioned vaccine will be stored. As the vaccine is distributed across the county health department networks, the local jurisdictions will be contacting specific organizations in the phase one priority groups to begin scheduling clinics.
The Pfizer vaccine being distributed starting today has been shown in late-stage vaccine trials to be safe and 95% effective. As always, Oklahomans should consult with their doctor if they have any questions about the vaccine, but this is a vaccine Oklahomans can feel comfortable taking.
OSDH anticipates that all Oklahomans should be able to access the vaccine sometime in 2021. By the time the vaccine becomes available to the general public, it’s likely that many primary care providers and pharmacies will be available to administer the vaccine at your comfort and convenience. Once the vaccine is available to the general public later in 2021, public announcements and web based vaccine finder locations will be established.
In the meantime, it’s vital that Oklahomans continue to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Everyone should continue to wear a mask, wash their hands and watch their distance as ways to truly prevent the spread of the coronavirus. These actions, in conjunction with the vaccine plan, will make a huge difference in keeping our families and communities safe and healthy in the long term.
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.