TULSA, OK – [January 27, 2021] – The Tulsa Health Department (THD) has always made science-driven public health decisions locally to ensure the health and safety of its distinctive community. Since mid-December when the vaccine was first made available in the state, THD has been managing COVID-19 vaccine inventory to ensure those that received their first dose at the THD vaccine clinic are guaranteed to receive their second dose to complete the series in accordance with the FDA recommendations.
According to the FDA, “Until vaccine manufacturers have data and science supporting a change, we continue to strongly recommend that health care providers follow the FDA-authorized dosing schedule for each COVID-19 vaccine.”
“Our primary goal is to protect residents with the vaccine, and we know the completed series offers that full protection,” said THD Executive Director, Dr. Bruce Dart. “We have worked really hard to expand our vaccine clinic by adding temporary staff and more appointments so we can serve more people at our site as well as making improvements to the process.”
As vaccine supplies have been increasing, THD has made a logistics decision to expand first or “prime” dose appointments in the Oklahoma Vaccine Portal using the current onsite inventory with the assurance of more vaccine allocations from the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) to continue to permit vaccine series be successfully completed.
“OSDH has made a request to all counties that we burn vaccine every 7 days,” said Dart. “Up to this point, the shipments we receive are sent to us as prime dose and boost dose. We have administered 100% of those named as prime dose. To complete the series successfully, those named as boost doses were held for those that received their prime dose at our clinic. We are now pivoting to release half of the second dose inventory on hand as prime doses to add additional appointments. This will allow additional providers in Tulsa County to receive and administer vaccine as well. We have also added an external liaison to make sure our community partners are doing the same.”
THD was allotted 7,680 doses to use this week, according to operations section chief, Alicia Etgen. Last Wednesday evening, THD opened 5,480 appointments in the Oklahoma Vaccine Portal. The balance was dedicated for use by health care providers, including strike times to long-term care facilities who are not receiving vaccine through the federal program, and for school districts with 65+ teachers and staff.
“At this time, we have not been able to saturate the primary care physicians,” added Etgen. “We are not receiving vaccine doses in amounts large enough to send out to the other providers. We have 253 pandemic providers in Tulsa County that once supplies allow, can receive a direct shipment of vaccine to support our efforts.”
THD is typically notified by OSDH by midday on Wednesday their allotment for the following week. The logistics team then strategizes storage timelines and administration based on the number of doses and types of doses. A schedule is determined and added into the portal typically starting Wednesday evening.
“We don’t want Tulsa County residents to have to travel to other counties to receive a vaccine,” said Dart. “The more vaccine we receive, the more Tulsa County residents we can serve. Right now, we are working based on these allotments. We recognize people are not happy with the current process, we need more vaccine to ensure we have appointments for all residents that need one. We ask everyone to continue to be patient and diligent until supplies are larger. We never know what we are getting week to week until we are told; it’s not under our control. OSDH has been very good at getting us our weekly vaccine allotment on time to match our appointments we have in the portal.”
All Tulsa County residents can visit OSDH’s Oklahoma Vaccine Portal at vaccinate.oklahoma.gov. This online portal serves as a point of registration for Oklahomans who choose to receive the vaccine to determine their eligibility within each priority group and provide contact information to OSDH for updates and notifications when it is their turn to receive the vaccine. During the registration process, Oklahomans will be asked to enter basic contact information, including an email address, and complete a brief questionnaire regarding their medical history.
According to the Oklahoma State Immunization Information System (OSIIS), THD has administered 15,572 vaccines to date, including 2,876 second doses. There have been 51,254 doses administered in Tulsa County and documented in OSIIS as of January 24.
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 oklahoma.gov/covid19/vaccine-information.
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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