Oklahoma Pre-K teachers, support staff, moved up on COVID-19 vaccine list

State Department of Health provides vaccine distribution update.

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – On Thursday December 17th, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt announced that teachers are going to be given access to the COVID-19 vaccine in phase two, instead of phase three, like was originally planned.

Stitt said his goal is to return all schools to in-person classes in January.

On Friday, during a press call with reporters, State Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye explained that does include Pre-K teachers, as well as support staff, throughout the state.

“We had already kind of planned to have that group in there. So, we got clarity on that, rallied together, and decided yes, we’re gonna make this a Pre-K through 12. Knowing that Pre-K is such an important part of that educational process as well,” explains Deputy Commissioner of Health Keith Reed.

Dr. Frye hopes they will be able to move to phase two of distribution in January — depending on the amount of vaccine the state will receive in January.

While they don’t know yet how many vaccines will come in January, they assured reporters that there will be enough doses to cover everyone in phase two.

“They were kind of in the fringes of it anyway because they initially were in the first part of phase three,” explains Dr. Frye. “And as we’ve mentioned many times, there is overlap between those phases. There are no hard cut offs. Some of those would be running concurrently anyway. And again, some of those in there are gonna be prioritized anyway because they may be older, or they might have had some comorbidities,  so we just moved them in.”

So how will teachers in rural parts of the state, like Ottawa and Delaware counties, get the vaccine?

Deputy Commissioner Reed says there’s a few different ways that could work, but it isn’t set in stone.

“Somebody could get it from their primary care physician in that way. They could also work with the local health departments. In some areas, it may make sense for a local health department to host a special clinic. Or in some cases, it could work to where the health department staff could set up a strike team and send a group of nurses into a district setting or something like that,” says Reed. “So really, we want to keep all those options on the table. And that’s kind of part of our theme moving forward. We want to be able to adapt to what the resources are locally, and what the opportunities are locally to be very efficient. ”

OSDH plans to give school districts guidance on who to have vaccinated first, but the final decision will be left up to each districts.

 

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