Hundreds Of Tulsa Healthcare Workers Receive COVID-19 Vaccine


Thursday, December 17th 2020, 5:12 pm
By: Emory Bryan


TULSA, Okla. -

The Tulsa Health Department said by the end of the day Thursday, over 1,200 Tulsans will have received the new COVID-19 vaccine.

The Department said the pace will speed up in the coming days, with demand from healthcare workers greater than the available supply.

So far, first responders have not been vaccinated. EMSA said only one medic in Tulsa has received the vaccine. Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart said he hopes to get more emergency medical staff the vaccination next week.

"We're still working to get as many people in and scheduled as possible, so we're looking at increasing the number we're giving every day," said Ellen Niemitalo RN, the Clinic Services Manager for the Health Department.

Both THD and Saint Francis Hospital are administering vaccines, working off a list developed by hospitals of their workers in direct contact with COVID-19 patients. THD said there are 13,981 people on the list. The first batch of doses was enough for 5,850 people, but new guidelines allow nurses to fully empty the vials that hold at least five doses, but sometimes six or seven.

Alicia Etgen, the Emergency Preparedness Manager for Tulsa Health, said more doses, and a second vaccine could come soon.

"We would expect a shipment of Moderna vaccine the middle of next week, so just before the Christmas holiday. We don't know how many doses would be in that, but we are hopeful. It would give us more than we have now," said Etgen.

The leadership of the Health Department is encouraged by the vaccine, but worried that people will stop taking precautions.

"It's going to continue to hitch-hike person to person, it's a very opportunistic virus and that's not going to change. The best thing we can do besides lining up for vaccine is to continue the safety measures of masking, distance and hand washing," Dr. Dart said.

In three weeks, the available doses will be divided between some people getting the second dose that's required, and some starting with the first. The Health Department is hopeful by then the supply will keep up with their ability to administer it.