OKC schools set target date for staff vaccinations
COVID-19 vaccines for Oklahoma City Public Schools staff could become available Feb. 12, though in a limited capacity.
Superintendent Sean McDaniel announced Tuesday the district will partner with private third-party provider Passport Health to offer free vaccines to employees. Feb. 12 is the target date to begin vaccinations, but McDaniel said it is reliant on access to doses through Passport Health.
Oklahoma City schools will host its own point-of-distribution site, or POD, at an unspecified district facility where employees can be vaccinated voluntarily.
A Tuesday news release from the superintendent didn’t specify whether Passport Health would provide the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, both of which require two doses for full effect.
The vaccines will come from the supply allocated to the state and county health departments. Availability likely will be “intermittent and very limited,” McDaniel said.
Because of this, the district will use a tiered approach to decide which employees receive doses first, similar to the hierarchy used at the state and local level.
Health care workers were first in line to be vaccinated. Appointments are now open to first responders and Oklahomans age 65 and older.
Staff in K-12 schools are next on the state’s schedule, but it could be several weeks before enough seniors, health care workers and first responders are vaccinated that local health departments are ready to accept teachers and school employees.
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Oklahoma's Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed said the state's ability to have widespread vaccinations of school staff depends on how many doses the state receives from the federal government, which can vary on a weekly basis. Reed, who oversees Oklahoma's vaccine rollout, said the more doses the state receives, the sooner they can be widely offered to teachers.
"We're not there yet," Reed said during a Tuesday news conference. "I'm not prepared to make a prediction on when that's going to happen. I would hope that it would be sooner rather than later."
Although details on prioritization are still to come, McDaniel said the district’s order of distribution will consider its Return to Campus schedule and the amount of daily student interaction typical of each staff position.
Elementary schools in the district reopened Tuesday for the first time in two months. Small groups of students in special education and alternative education begin meeting in person this week, as well.
Middle and high school students are still in full-time virtual learning, though administrators are considering a tentative return date of Feb. 1.
McDaniel encouraged all district staff interested in the vaccine to preregister with the Oklahoma State Department of Health at vaccinate.oklahoma.gov. Information on district vaccine signups is yet to be released.
McDaniel said that preregistering will allow staff to stay informed of public vaccine distribution sites available to you. Those interested in receiving the vaccine should take advantage of your first opportunity to do so — whether that’s with the district or other distribution site.
Staff writer Carmen Forman contributed to this report.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct false information provided by Oklahoma City Public Schools about the source of the district's vaccines. The district and its third-party provider, Passport Health, will offer vaccines from the supply allocated to the state and county health departments.