About 6 percent of Oklahomans who have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine are considered overdue for their second shot, Deputy Health Department Commissioner Keith Reed told The Frontier.
A person is considered overdue when more than 42 days have passed since their first dose, Reed said.
“That’s a small percentage. People are by and large coming and getting that second dose,” Reed said.
Oklahoma State Department of Health data shows about 41,000 people have gone more than 42 days without getting their second dose.
“Overall I’m pretty pleased with that number,” he said. “I thought it would be higher to be honest.”
Oklahoma entered phase 3 of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan this week, offering vaccines to more than 2 million additional Oklahomans. The vast majority of adults in the state are now eligible for the vaccine, a fact Gov. Kevin Stitt said could “get our summer back.”
Oklahoma ranks 7th in the country for per capita vaccinations, according to information the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this week.
Getting just one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine offers some immunity from COVID-19, but is nowhere near as effective as getting both doses, Reed said.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which arrived in Oklahoma last week, comes in a one-dose shot.
The Moderna and Pfizer shots are both considered more than 90 percent effective at preventing infection within a week of receiving the second dose, a recent study found, but less than 60 percent effective after only one dose.
People who receive the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines should get their second shot 21 days and 28 days later. But if needed, individuals can delay the second dose up for to 42 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are still gaps in the data tracking Oklahoma’s vaccine distribution.
Oklahoma officials have administered more than 700,000 doses as of this week, but those numbers don’t include about 200,000 federal doses that have been distributed primarily by tribal governments. Combined, more than 1,000,000 Oklahomans have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
But as Oklahoma enters Phase 3 of its vaccine rollout, the data is expected to improve, Reed said.
The Department of Health is keeping a close eye on the rollout across the state to make sure the distribution is as equitable as possible among geographic and racial lines, he said.
“We’re doing what we can,” Reed said. “We don’t want to find out that the panhandle is being left out. I know in the metro areas we’re even looking even down to the zip code level.”
But it’s not as simple as merely pushing more vaccines to counties that appear to be underrepresented by vaccine intake. Many people travel across county lines to get their shots. People can also get their first dose in one location and their second elsewhere.
Counties with seemingly low vaccination numbers don’t include doses that have been administered by tribal governments. Cherokee Nation, the largest Native American tribe in the state, began offering vaccinations to anyone living within its 14-county reservation area this week.
“That’s not an insignificant number,” Reed said. “I’m missing considerable data right now because of that. I know our counties that are well represented by tribal health systems are maybe underrepresented in my data.”
Another difficulty the state has faced has been tracking racial demographics of those receiving the vaccine — 23 percent of people who register for the vaccine don’t indicate their race.
Reed said his figures show Black Oklahomans represent just 3.3 percent of those who’ve received at least one shot. Oklahoma still lags behind national data that shows 7.2 percent of people nationwide who’ve received the vaccine are Black.
State health officials hope to narrow that gap with targeted efforts to distribute the vaccine at churches and other locations in underrepresented communities.
“We can get these numbers up,” Reed said. “But we have to be diligent.”