3rd vaccine option to arrive in Oklahoma this week

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

Oklahoma will be receiving over 31,000 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine after emergency approval last week. The new option for vaccinating eligible residents in the state is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of vaccines from two other manufacturers that have already been administered. 

“We should all be excited that we have another vaccine on board,” said Keith Reed, Deputy Commissioner for the Oklahoma State Department of Health.  

“We’re seeing increases in our Pfizer and Moderna supply coming, so when you add this into the mix and you start exponentially increasing our vaccine supply, [there is a] great opportunity to add a lot of additional access points,” he told reporters on Monday. 

Reed said changes in the federal vaccine operation that dictates shipments to the state have resulted in three-week projections of shipments rather than weekly notices. As more vaccine options become available, the three vaccines will be distributed across providers like hospitals and clinics. 

“The best vaccine you can get is the one that is available to you now,” Reed said. “When it comes into the state, we want it into somebody’s arm within seven days.” 

As of Monday, Oklahoma had administered more than 1.1 million state and federal vaccine doses. Nearly 940,000 of those doses have been specific state allocations. The first 31,500 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine are expected to arrive in Oklahoma later this week.

The new vaccine does not need ultra cold storage and is administered in a single shot, compared to Pfizer and Moderna which each require specific cold storage and a booster shot weeks later.  

Reed said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may prove to be effective for rural areas and populations where receiving a second shot may prove difficult. OSDH Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye said transient populations will also be considered for the single-shot vaccine. 

“We want to make sure that we don’t forget these people either,” he said. 

Oklahoma has currently opened up two of the four phases of the state vaccination plan. Health care workers, first responders, K-12 teachers, those over 65 years old and adults with comorbidities are among the first two phases.

In Carter County, eligible recipients can search for available appointments through the state health department’s scheduling portal, https://vaccinate.oklahoma.gov, or through the county health department. Mercy Hospital Ardmore also has a scheduling portal available at https://www.mercy.net/ArdmoreVaccine.