COVID vaccine demand drops in Carter County

Plamedie Ifasso
The Daily Ardmoreite

COVID-19 vaccine demand has slowed in Carter County in the past couple of month

Julie Williamson, public information officer for Oklahoma State Department of Health District 8, said January and February were fast paced and frantic for vaccine rollout, but come late March, things began to slow down. One of the reasons, she believes things slowed down is that people who wanted to get vaccinated made sure to get appointments as early as they could. 

“I think that all the people that were really enthusiastic and really excited about getting the vaccine worked really hard to get appointments early on,” Williamson said. “Now we’re dealing with populations where they’re kind of on the fence, and they’re not really sure if they want to get it.” 

One trend that hasn’t changed is people traveling from densely populated areas to come get vaccinated. Williamson said towards the beginning of the vaccine rollout, people from the metro areas like Oklahoma City and Tulsa traveled to Carter County in order to get a vaccine. 

“Early on, it was a lot harder for people to get a vaccine up in those more densely populated areas,” Williamson said. “But even now, we still have people that will travel several hours to come get their vaccine down here.” 

As demand decreases, the amount of extra vaccines has increased. Williamson said when they have leftovers, office staff will call anybody they know who wanted a vaccine. They have also gone to local businesses close to their office to see if they want to get vaccinated, Williamson said. 

One good thing about having leftover vaccinations is that the health department can schedule vaccination events further in advance. Williamson said in an effort to reach underserved areas, the department is doing more community outreach.   

“We’ve gone to churches,” Williamson said. “We’ve gone to hair salons. We’ve been to the race track. This Saturday, we will be at Ardmore Regional Park for the kids fishing derby and some other events. Yesterday we went to the Grace Resource Center and the Salvation Army to serve the homeless population. We’ve been pretty flexible about trying to go anywhere people will have us.” 

Williamson said the numbers for these events typically vary, but the goal is make sure people have access to the vaccine. 

“We haven’t done any huge numbers at the moment, but it always feels like an investment,” Williamson said. “The more you can get people access to the vaccine hopefully there will be a ripple effect where some of the people they know will feel a little bit more comfortable getting a vaccine later.”