TULSA, OK – [December 23, 2020] – To ensure priority populations are the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the Tulsa Health Department (THD) is working collaboratively with Tulsa County healthcare systems to provide access to COVID-19 vaccines in accordance to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) phased plan.
Predetermined sites were identified around the state by the State of Oklahoma to receive initial vaccine shipments. These sites were selected based on strategic location, ability to meet the ultra-cold storage and handling requirements of the vaccine and their willingness to participate in the program. From these initial locations, vaccine doses are redistributed to select health systems and county health departments based on a hub and spoke model in order to more effectively reach key populations across the state.
Some health systems in Tulsa County have been given the option to use their own staff to administer the vaccine to frontline healthcare workers. In other cases across the state, vaccine will be administered by public health nurses from OSDH, county health departments, THD and distribution sites.
THD and vaccine distribution partners are working with pre-identified priority healthcare organizations to receive their rosters of workers that facilities identified to be vaccinated. THD and distribution partners do not identify these individuals and rely solely on these entities to make their vaccine allotment decisions. As additional shipments of the vaccine arrive every 1-2 weeks, these rosters will be expanded to get through all of the staff necessary to complete phase 1.
“THD continues to work with Ascension St John, Hillcrest HealthCare System, Saint Francis Health System, OSU Medical Center and approximately 15 other health care facilities to provide vaccines to phase 1 front line health care workers in as safe a manner as possible, while following the guidance of OSDH and the CDC,” said Executive Director, Dr. Bruce Dart. “As vaccine continues to be available, we are constantly evaluating processes with all partners to ensure they are meeting the needs of populations in the priority groups. We appreciate all of our partners’ efforts in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine.”
“Ascension St. John remains committed to collaborating with the Tulsa Health Department, Saint Francis Health System, Hillcrest Medical Center, OSU Medical Center and other local partners to safely and effectively provide COVID-19 vaccines to phase 1 front line health care workers. To date, our collaboration has resulted in successful vaccinations in the region. Our goal continues to be aiding the distribution of the vaccine to health care workers in the region and we strongly encourage all health care workers and the public to receive the vaccination when it becomes available to them. We appreciate the collaboration between Tulsa Health Department and local health system partners as we work together to achieve this goal,” said Ascension St. John CEO and Oklahoma Ministry Market Executive Jeffrey D. Nowlin, FACHE
“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with state and regional health departments as one of the vaccine distribution partners for our area. We know that each person scheduled at our drive-thru vaccination site is a hero and has played and will play a critical role in our collective fight against this virus. We are honored to serve them,” said Jake Henry Jr., president and CEO, Saint Francis Health System
“Last week, Tulsa health care systems reached a critical milestone in the pandemic as we began administering the vaccine to our employees. We will continue to work with our partners at THD and OSDH to ensure our employees are vaccinated in accordance with the COVID-19 vaccine phases. Once supply allows, we encourage the community to receive vaccination; not only to protect themselves, but their families as well. Together, we can work to eradicate the virus and that starts with wearing your mask and practicing social distancing and soon by receiving the vaccine,” said Kevin Gross, CEO of Hillcrest HealthCare System.
“We are in frequent communication with the Tulsa Health Department regarding the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s phase 1 distribution plan. We are executing that plan at their discretion,” said Dr. Damon Baker, Chief Medical Officer at OSU Medical Center.
The distribution of the vaccine is broken out into four broad phases in the Oklahoma plan. Priority populations for Oklahoma were chosen from a combination of guidelines from the CDC and needs that are specific to our state. OSDH and public health entities across the state assessed existing data sources for each of the populations identified. OSDH was intentional in choosing to vaccinate front line workers at the beginning so they are able to serve Oklahomans without the risk of spreading COVID-19 further among populations. Also included is one of the most vulnerable populations, residents at nursing homes, assisted living and long-term care facilities. The full vaccine plan can be found here. The full breakdown of priority phases can be found here. Public health officials anticipate the general public will have access to the vaccine in 2021. It’s important to understand the vaccine distribution plan remains fluid.
As the vaccine is distributed, the state will largely rely upon the federal tracking and reporting systems built specifically for COVID vaccine. The Oklahoma State Immunization Information System (OSIIS) will be the primary system used to track individual vaccinations, to include 1st and 2nd doses where required. The number of doses administered by all entities in each county across the state are reported to OSDH through OSIIS and numbers are reported out collectively statewide in their weekly epidemiology report. According to last Friday’s OSDH report, 2,253 doses have been administered statewide.
A vaccine is just one part of the solution. It’s important to remember that distributing this vaccine will take time. There are limited quantities starting out, which will first be reserved for front line workers. Even after receiving the vaccine, it is vital for the individual to continue to take precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19. These actions, in conjunction with the vaccine plan, can make a huge difference in keeping our families and communities safe and healthy in the long term.
Public health officials ask Oklahomans to please keep in mind that an effort of this magnitude will not happen overnight. It will take some time and our efforts will continue over the days, weeks, and months following initial receipt of the vaccine.
“We ask for patience and understanding as we progress through this complicated endeavor,” said Dr. Dart. “THD knows that Tulsa County has been hit hard by COVID-19, and recognizes that it must protect all residents from this disease as soon as reasonably possible within the state’s vaccination plan.”
Oklahomans will be informed by their personal medical provider or by phone when it is their turn to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine. OSDH is working to develop an online portal where Oklahomans can schedule a vaccine appointment. Individuals may also call 211 to set up their appointment once the time comes.
Call 918-582-9355 to speak to a public health professional. For more information, please visit our COVID-19 page.
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