OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new study shows Oklahoma is one of the top five states for the most COVID-19 deaths per capita that could have been prevented if more people were vaccinated.

The study from Brown University claims that if the state had achieved 100% vaccination of eligible individuals, more than 5,800 Oklahomans could have been saved from January of last year through April of this year.

OU Health’s leading expert in COVID-19 says the new study confirms what he and others have been saying for quite some time.

“The vaccines are very effective, they’re very safe, and we could have saved a lot more people had we done a better job of getting more people vaccinated,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU Chief COVID officer. 

The study uses data from January of 2021 through April of 2022, when the vaccines were available.

It suggested that if Oklahoma achieved 100% vaccination status among eligible individuals, 5,833 fewer Oklahomans would have died in that time period.

“So, very substantial numbers. And you know, I will agree that 100% probably isn’t a reachable goal perhaps but even if you looked at 85% vaccination rate of people who are eligible, the risk of death would have dropped substantially,” said Bratzler. 

The study ranked Oklahoma among the top 5 states with preventable deaths per capita.

Other states in the top five include West Virginia, Wyoming, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Bratzler says the state continues to see more COVID-19 deaths each week that likely could have been prevented.

“Very frustrating to the health care community,” Bratzler said. “I think that’s one of the things that’s been highlighted a lot – how many health care workers lament the fact that they see these patients that come in, so sick into the intensive care unit with the disease, that it’s potentially preventable? No vaccine is perfect, but these vaccines have been very effective at reducing the risk of going to the hospital or dying from the disease.”

Bratzler says COVID-19 cases are going up once again and your best defense is still the vaccines and booster.