OSDH asks Federal Government to reduce amount of COVID-19 vaccines coming into the state as demand decreases

TULSA, Okla. — The Oklahoma State Department of Health is asking the Federal Government to reduce the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses it receives each week as demand has declined across the state.

The announcement of a reduction comes as The Biden Administration announced Tuesday that it was shifting vaccine doses away from states where there was less demand to states that have more need for them. In a few states, they are rejecting large portions of their weekly shipment to avoid waste and just having them sit in freezers waiting for use.

Oklahoma State Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed said the state did not want to get to the point where the Federal government was just taking doses away from the state’s weekly shipment on its own, they wanted to have control over how much the state needs and gets each week.

The state is requesting more than 200,000 doses a week, and many of them are being shipped out to doctor’s offices and other “pandemic providers” to administer doses.

“Our demand is in the tens of thousands instead of the hundreds of thousands,” Reed said. “We don’t want to have to return doses to redistribute to other states.”

Reed said though the state is not receiving as many doses as it can, the cutback does not impact the state’s ability to send out doses to individual doctors offices where many people are now going to talk about COVID and the vaccine with their long-time family physician before actually getting vaccinated.

“A few weeks ago, we began to look at supply outpacing demand,” Reed said.

State health officials are optimistic they can get three million Oklahomans vaccinated by Memorial Day weekend, but they admit numbers have fallen off lately.

The reason for the fall off has been equated to those really wanting to be vaccinated already getting the vaccine, and now they are working on those in communities that have access issues, questions about the vaccine, and those who feel they aren’t at high risk and will get around to being vaccinated when they get the chance, but it’s not a priority for them.

The state isn’t actually far off from administering three million doses. As of Tuesday morning, 2,271,000 Oklahomans have at least had one dose of a COVID vaccine, and 1.2 Million have completed an entire vaccination series. Around fifty percent of Oklahoma’s adult population is considered fully vaccinated. However the state is seeing a decline in the number of people coming back for their second dose.