Oklahoma Teachers Moved Up To Phase 2 Of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan

Thursday, December 17th 2020, 9:20 pm

TULSA, Okla. -

Governor Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced Dec. 17 they are moving Oklahoma's teachers up in line to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Pre-k through 12th grade teachers will move to Phase 2 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan.

Most teachers News On 6 talked to are thrilled to move up the priority list, but some older Oklahomans worry whether this means they would now have to compete for the vaccines.

Ashley Bates said bumping Oklahoma teachers from Phase 3 to Phase 2 of the state's COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan is the right thing to do.

"I am just ecstatic that we are making progress for getting students back in school,” said Bates.

The Union Public Schools teacher and her father, who is also a teacher, have both recovered from COVID-19. Bates said she can wait to get the vaccine, but at-risk teachers should be priority.

"I am healthy, and so I would love to give up my spot to somebody else that feels more anxious or maybe has more risks than I do," said Bates.

Some, like 81-year-old Leah Horner of Tulsa, said they want to know whether moving teachers up will create more competition for the vaccine.

"I have a sister that is 75 and very vulnerable,” said Horner. “It would not be my choice that a young teacher would get the COVID vaccine before my sister."

Keith Reed, Deputy Commissioner of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, explained to News On 6.

He said although teachers are now in the same phase as those 65 and older and people with chronic illnesses, priority will still go to those more at risk.

"We know a lot of Oklahomans are going to fall into multiple categories, age, medical condition, the workspace within the state, so in that particular situation, they're always welcome to get into the category that puts them highest on the list," said Reed.

Reed said between Operation Warp Speed and the CDC, there should be plenty of vaccines to minimize competition.

Officials said phase two of the distribution plan could start in January.

Reed said the state is working on setting up an online system for the public to use once it is their turn to sign up for vaccination.