State Leaders Call It ‘A Historic Day’ As First Oklahomans Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

Monday, December 14th 2020, 6:16 pm
By: Amy Avery

State leaders said it’s a historic day in the fight against COVID-19 as the first Oklahoman received her first dose of the Pfizer Vaccine today.

Several other front-line healthcare workers were also vaccinated in OKC today.

“This vaccine is a big piece of the puzzle, but we still need to keep doing our part,” said Governor Kevin Stitt.

St. Francis expects to start distributing the vaccine in Tulsa tomorrow.

State Health Leaders said they hope to have 166,000 doses of the vaccine by the end of the year, which means 166,000 Oklahomans will be one step closer in being protected against the virus.

"I'm not just doing it for me, I am doing it for you and your family too,” said Registered Nurse, Hannah White.

White was the first Oklahoman to receive the first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine.

This morning, 33,000 doses were delivered to Oklahoma to be distributed across the state, 72 hours after it was approved by the FDA. 7,800 doses went to Integris in Oklahoma City and 9,750 were given to St. Francis in Tulsa.

“While today is certainly a day of excitement for the arrival of the vaccine to this region, it is also a day to reflect on how far we have come in the past 10 months. It is a time to commend the researchers, scientists and public health professionals who made this day possible. It is a day to mourn those we have lost. And it is a day—like every day—to thank and honor the heroes on the front lines of the fight against this virus,” said Saint Francis Health System president and chief executive officer, Jake Henry Jr. “This vaccine is not a cure; it is a call to recommit ourselves to working together. Hope is on the horizon, but we must remain vigilant,” said Saint Francis Health System president and chief executive officer, Jake Henry Jr.

The Tulsa Health Department said 5,850 doses are allocated for Tulsa County, with more expected on a weekly basis.

“While this announcement is good news, it’s important to remember that distributing this vaccine will take time. We have lost 28 Tulsa County residents to this virus in the last week, and active cases and hospitalizations continue to remain dangerously high. It is critical for our residents to continue to follow public health guidelines to stay safe,” said THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart.

"This vaccine is a big piece of the puzzle, but we still need to keep doing our part," said Governor Kevin Stitt. 

State Health Officials said several partners have donated storage equipment, especially in rural areas to help keep the vaccine cold, but they said it will take time to get the doses out for distribution.

"Everyone should continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance while you wait for the vaccine,” said Commissioner of Health, Dr. Lance Frye.

Phase One of the state's plan includes Frontline Healthcare workers, public health staff, EMT's and Paramedics.

“They fought for you, they continue to fight for you, and they rush into the battle for all of us,” said CEO of Integris, Timothy Pearson.

Long-term care residents and staff will get the vaccine through the Federal Pharmacy Partner Program.

"It will take several months and more vaccination phases to see the beneficial effects on public health,” said OU Health Chief of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Douglas Drevets.

Drevets said side effects could include pain at injection site and a mild headache, but said both vaccines are very safe. He hopes people understand the importance of getting the vaccine.

"When people ask me how badly should we want to get the vaccine, my response is how badly do you want to get back to having what you remember as a normal life?” said Dr. Drevets.

State leaders said the vaccine is just part of the solution and we need to keep doing our part by wearing masks, washing our hands and keeping our distance.

Thursday, the Moderna vaccine is expected to be reviewed by the FDA.