Oklahoma Gov. Stitt opens COVID-19 vaccine rollout to teachers, staff, and people with comorbidities

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and state officials will announce the next steps in Oklahoma’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan Thursday morning.

The state is opening up the next priority groups within Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout plan, this includes pre-K through 12 teachers and school staff along with Oklahomans with comorbidities under the age of 65.

This next group should be opened to be eligible for the vaccine on February 22nd.

The Professional Oklahoma Educators released the following statement:

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s announcement today to make the COVID-19 vaccine available for all Oklahoma school employees is a critical step forward in keeping teachers and students safe. Since August, the vast majority of POE members have been working in-person or employed by districts with an in-person option. POE’s focus has been on the prioritization of all school employees for the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as appropriate health safety procedures for districts and special accommodations for at-risk individuals. We are grateful for Gov. Stitt and Sec. Ryan Walters’ willingness to work with POE on prioritizing school employees for the COVID-19 vaccine. The pandemic is not over, but we are encouraged by this step to protect our educators and children. 

Ginger Tinney, Executive Director of Professional Oklahoma Educators

Joy Hofmeister also released this statement after the vaccine rollout update:

Our teachers and support staff deserve and need to work in a safe and secure environment. Giving them this opportunity to receive the vaccine as soon as reasonably possible is critical. While in-person school is more dependent on COVID mitigation strategies such as masks and social distancing, ensuring the vaccination of teachers is vital to keeping school doors open. I urge all Oklahomans, teachers and non-teachers alike, to welcome the vaccine as soon as they are eligible.”

Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent of Public Instruction

We’re glad the governor has followed the lead of other governors across the country by prioritizing school workers. Educators have been outspoken in their advocacy for concrete actions to keep our schools open safely. We are grateful the governor has listened and taken this critical step. Thank you to everyone who spoke up for our schools.

“We appreciate the pointed, deliberate, and collaborative effort by the Oklahoma State Department of Health to connect with schools. The public health workers in our communities have been working so hard for months, and we appreciate their tireless efforts.

“Every teacher vaccinated represents a classroom full of students who can begin to go back to the business of learning unafraid. Vaccinating their teachers, coaches, bus drivers, cooks, and others is an important step toward normalcy.”

Alicia Priest, OEA President

Eligibility in each of these groups is outlined in Oklahoma’s distribution plan as the following:

  • Oklahomans under 65 with comorbidities: Older adults and adults with one or multiple comorbid conditions including but not limited to hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease, Down syndrome, diabetes mellitus, chronic lung, liver or renal disease, cancers, who are at high risk of mortality and severe morbidity resulting from COVID infection.

Total estimated population: 1 million

  • Teachers and staff in Pre-K-12 schools and educational settings: Workers within public and private Pre-K-12 schools, for whom exposure is very difficult to control due to the nature of their institutions, and who serve an important societal role ensuring educational needs are met.

Total estimated population: 89,000

“Over the last month the state has worked diligently with our pandemic partners to get vaccines into the arms of Oklahomans who are most at risk, and can confidently say we have administered vaccine to nearly 50% of those in our 65+ group,” said State Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye. “We are proud of the progress that has been made so far in protecting our most vulnerable Oklahomans, and we feel ready to make this life-saving vaccine available to two of our next priority groups that are at high risk of exposure.”

Each school district will be evaluated its needs to determine the timing and localized rollout.

If you have not pre-registered through the Oklahoma Vaccine Portal you should do so now.

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