Some Oklahoma residents traveling long distances for first vaccine dose

Why A Tulsa Resident Had To Come To Miami For A Vaccine

MIAMI, Okla -Oklahoma is getting ready to move into the next tier of administering the COVID-19 vaccine. But not everyone in the current tier has gotten their first dose. 

James Thompson from the Oklahoma state health department says that they won’t ever complete a phase before moving into the next phase of vaccination.  

“We had about 65% of Oklahomans in the 65+ category receive their vaccinations already. And based on statewide, looking at the number of appointments being filled for that age group, it was an appropriate time to move into that next phase and open it up,” Thompson says.

Because certain areas of the state have completed vaccine phases before others, the state is moving forward with the next phase. People who still need vaccines that meet the first phase requirements are traveling across the state to get an appointment.

“So as we post appointments for different locations, people willing to travel will find a place to travel to, to get those appointments.”

 The state is posting appointments as they become available.

“And so as we do that we can’t control, we can’t lock down to say only people–certain residents out of certain counties can have access to those appointments, it’s for Oklahomans,” says Thompson.

This is how Tulsa residents like Anthony Jones ended up in Miami for his first dose of the vaccine.

Jones works at a public school in Tulsa, because he has so much face-to-face contact with kids on a regular basis, it was his turn to get vaccinated. But he couldn’t do it back home. 

“That was where the struggle came in, when I couldn’t find an appointment, the closest one was about a hundred miles away here in Miami,” says Jones.

He says he doesn’t mind the distance because he’s able to get one step closer to beating the virus.

“I mean when people are getting sick it’s kind of important that you do whatever it takes to get what you need to help other people, help yourself you know stay healthy,” says Jones.

Thompson says that despite people traveling across Oklahoma, the state health department is doing their best to make sure that community residents get first priority.

“One of the benefits that we have here in Ottawa County specifically, is a lot of the tribal Indian healthcare also supports a lot of the residents here in Ottawa County, so they’re vaccinating as well based on their federal allotments,” Thompson says.

He adds that when signing up online, all one needs is Oklahoma residency, or to work within the state.