The Tulsa Health Department has now expanded vaccine providers to 13 other clinical settings, in addition to the one vaccination site operated by the County. As of Tuesday, THD reports administering 21,000 or 23,175 doses vaccine doses received from the federal government.
"It takes 70 to 80% of all of our population to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, to prevent natural transmission of the virus, and it's going to take months and months to get to that point" said Dr. Bruce Dart, the Executive Director.
The Health Department intends to continue reserving booster shots for the time being, which arrive at the proper interval either 21 or 28 days after the primary dose. The federal government has announced plans to change policies on reserving booster shots, but that was after THD described their plans to reporters.
Dr. Dart said the department and the 211 information line have been overwhelmed with calls about the vaccine availability.
"We're really pleased at the uptake and desire of people to get the vaccine, but we're limited by vaccine supply at this juncture, which we know makes it difficult for people to schedule an appointment, so we ask people to be patient," Dart said.
Dart said the department was administering vaccine as quickly as possible after receiving shipments, and for now, the limitation is supply, and the inability to plan more than a few days in advance without knowing how much vaccine the federal government will send.
Tulsa Health has hired temporary staff and mobilized help from the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps to handle the extra demands for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and vaccinations.
The department reported Tuesday that of tests administered at their site, more than one-third were positive, indicating widespread disease transmission in Tulsa.
Dart said even with the vaccine, it would take months to turn the tide on COVID-19, and he expects high numbers of cases until then.