OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Tuesday, the Oklahoma State Health Department Deputy Commissioner answered some persistent or unanswered questions surrounding the vaccine rollout.
To start, Deputy Commissioner Keith Reed addressed a question that has continued to pop up, saying if a person has had COVID-19, they should still get the vaccine.
However, even if that person is eligible now, they should make sure to wait until 90 days after they first tested positive. That’s how long someone is believed to be safely immune.
“We would ask for them to leave those appointments for Oklahomans that maybe are past those 90 days or have not yet been infected,” Reed said.
For those who are ready for the shot, some couples in the 65 and over category have expressed frustration that they can’t get the vaccine together, at times forced to go to entirely separate cities. For some, it’s an extra burden for what has already been a difficult process.
Reed said OSDH has made efforts to pair people together, but for now, there is not a system in place.
“That’s a real challenge right now,” Reed said. “From a system perspective, we’re trying to figure out how to get that particular one taken care of. But we’re very aware of that. We’re trying to get together with our team to figure out the best way to crack that one because that we don’t want them traveling to two different areas either.”
Finally, questions are cropping up regarding the existence of a “priority standby list” for the extra doses left over at a vaccine POD at the end of the day. The issue sometimes comes up with the Pfizer vaccine, which needs to be used immediately before it expires.
Last week, the superintendent of Ponca City Schools told staff in a public meeting that if they were 65 or older, they could get on a standby list for these doses, so long as they were ready to show up on a moment’s notice.
A spokesperson for the Kay County Health Department said in the past there have been opportunities to administer these leftover doses to individuals who qualify under the current tier through community partnerships. However, there is no specific policy surrounding this destination, and anyone who needs a vaccine is still directed to go through the portal.
Reed said inside OSDH, there is no policy for standbys.
“What I don’t want to do is create a situation where we have people all over the state trying to call in to get on a special list to get called if there are appointments available,” he said.
But if people who do not have the technology or ability to sign up on the portal call 2-1-1, the 211 operator will find another way to schedule an appointment for that person.
“They would take their name and number and distribute that out to the county health departments,” Reed said, “and then they use those numbers to call and fill in some appointments that they have set aside for them.”