Oklahoma health leaders monitoring, warning of Delta COVID-19 variant in OK

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Life is beginning to feel more normal as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, but medical experts are warning of the threats variants of concern present to the unvaccinated.

According to the most recent numbers from the state, 36.7% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

“We can’t just forget about it because there’s still a threat,” said Dr. George Monks, former President of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

Even as the masks have started to come off across the country, Monks has remained focused on the threat COVID-19 presents to Oklahomans.

“We’ve had about 40 cases of this Delta variant and it is significant because it’s more infectious and it causes more severe disease,” he said. 

The Delta Variant was originally found in India and is likely to become the dominant variant in the United States.

Monks says the 40 cases in Oklahoma are just the ones we know of. 

“We’re the only state in the United States that has a pandemic center and yet we actually rank last in the United States in the overall number of tests we’re doing for variants of concern,” he said. 

Vaccines are the best way to protect against these variants and the latest numbers show less than 40% of eligible Oklahomans have rolled up their sleeves.

As other states offer incentives like lotteries to encourage folks to get their shot, Monks says that might be something Oklahoma should look into. However, your safety should be the biggest incentive.

“Sometimes people just want to know that it’s safe and effective and they want the vaccine to be out for a while, but this one is probably more safe than any other vaccine we’ve had,” said Monks. “It’s very effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization. It can save your life.”

As of the latest state epidemiology report, more than 63% of Oklahomans ages 65 and up are fully vaccinated, the highest percentage per age group.

The number drops to a little more than 45% for those aged 50-64. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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