TULSA, OK – [December 14, 2020] – Today the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer have been delivered across the state. The Tulsa Health Department in partnership with Saint Francis Health System has confirmed the safe arrival of the vaccine in Tulsa County, and will begin administering the vaccine in accordance with the OSDH priority population framework to individuals in phase one.
“The arrival of a safe and effective vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in Tulsa County is historic. I want to thank our partners at the state and local level for their collaborative efforts to coordinate the logistics of the vaccine distribution, and for their continued efforts as more doses become available,” said THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart. “While this announcement is good news, it’s important to remember that distributing this vaccine will take time. We have lost 28 Tulsa County residents to this virus in the last week, and active cases and hospitalizations continue to remain dangerously high. It is critical for our residents to continue to follow public health guidelines to stay safe.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration FDA has rigorous scientific and regulatory processes in place that ensure the safety, effectiveness and quality of COVID-19 vaccines. On December 11, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in individuals 16 years of age and older. On December 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield approved the recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
The Tulsa Health Department has worked closely with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, State of Oklahoma, OKC-County Health Department and numerous state and local community partners to develop vaccination plans. There are 5,850 doses allocated for Tulsa County in this initial shipment, with more doses expected on a weekly basis.
“Saint Francis Health System is grateful to have been selected as a vaccine distribution partner for our region,” said Saint Francis Health System President and CEO Jake Henry Jr. “While today is certainly a day of excitement for the arrival of the vaccine to this region, it is also a day to reflect on how far we have come in the past 10 months. It is a time to commend the researchers, scientists and public health professionals who made this day possible. It is a day to mourn those we have lost. And it is a day—like every day—to thank and honor the heroes on the front lines of the fight against this virus. This vaccine is not a cure, it is a call to recommit ourselves to working together. Hope is on the horizon, but we must remain vigilant.”
Individuals who meet the criteria for phase one distribution will be contacted by staff from THD or Saint Francis Health System to make an appointment for the first dose. Instructions for receiving the vaccine, including directions to the confidential location where vaccines will be administered, will be provided at the time the appointment is made.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses administered 21 days apart. There is no out-of-pocket expense for vaccine recipients. In late-stage vaccine trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has shown to be 95% effective.
“I want to thank the State of Oklahoma for providing Tulsa with its first phase vaccine supply today that will begin to be distributed to our essential healthcare workers immediately,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “I know Tulsa’s healthcare and long-term care facility communities are exhausted from this response, and I‘m hoping the initial distribution of this vaccine will provide them some comfort in knowing more help is on the way to protect our neighbors. Although the distribution of a vaccine is welcome news, we still have a long road ahead as a community and each of us must do what we can to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Washing our hands, watching our distance, and wearing a mask remain the best things we can do to support our healthcare heroes.”
“It’s a relief to know that a vaccine to actively fight against COVID-19 is finally in our county,” said Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith. “I encourage all eligible, frontline health care workers to take advantage and get immunized. Vaccinations protect more than just the person getting inoculated, and for health care workers — especially those working in nursing homes, it protects the many people they care for.”
“The arrival of the vaccine today is a culmination of months of collaboration between the State Department of Health and partners across the state. I’m excited to see the vaccine plan put into motion today,” said State Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye. “It’s important to remember, though, that these first doses are reserved for those Oklahomans most at risk. To truly protect one another, we need Oklahomans to continue wear a mask, wash their hands, watch their distance and wait for the vaccine.”
There is currently a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, but supply will increase in the weeks and months to come. More information regarding vaccine availability in Tulsa County can be found on our COVID-19 vaccine page. For information regarding the Oklahoma COVID-19 Vaccine Plan, including the priority population framework for Oklahoma, please visit their COVID-19 vaccine page.
The Tulsa Health Department continues to offer specimen collection for COVID-19 testing by appointment only. Appointments can be scheduled online. Call 918-582-9355 to speak to a public health professional. For more information, please visit our COVID-19 page.
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