Just two-thirds of Oklahomans willing to take COVID vaccine today, survey shows
Nearly a third of Oklahomans wouldn't take the COVID-19 vaccine if they had a chance, according to a survey that tracks responses to that question daily.
While not the lowest in the country, Oklahoma's roughly 68% acceptance rate lags behind many other states when it comes to whether residents would take the vaccine today if it were offered.
The Delphi COVIDcast survey, conducted through Facebook by Carnegie Mellon University, tracks responses daily to the vaccine question and other indicators. About 4,000 Oklahomans have answered the survey each day; the results and more information can be found at delphi.cmu.edu.
The highest rates of acceptance are seen on the east and west coasts, and about 80% of residents in Minnesota and Colorado said they would take the vaccine. The lowest acceptance rate is Mississippi, with just 61% of people saying they would.
These figures show there's more work to be done to inspire confidence in the available vaccines, said State Epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor.
"We want them to feel comfortable with safety and efficacy, and hopefully as they see the benefits of this vaccine and the minimal risks, they will become more open and accepting," Taylor said during a weekly conference with reporters.
And while health officials say the data is concerning, it's not terrible news. For example, the 68% acceptance rate is higher now than it was before the holidays, said Dr. Dale Bratzler, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center's health chief quality officer.
And even if just two-thirds of the state gets the vaccine, doing so would go a long way toward developing herd immunity.
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"We could have 30% or 40% of Oklahomans that have already had COVID-19 and have some degree of immunity. And now we're adding vaccine on top of that," he said. "We don't have to get 100% of the population vaccinated to achieve herd immunity."
That's when enough people have immunity to the vaccine that the virus has trouble finding a suitable host. Herd immunity against COVID-19 can be achieved with somewhere between 70% and 85% of people who have had the vaccine or have a natural immunity, Bratzler added.
Studies have shown that people who already had the disease can develop immunity, with some studies showing it can last for at least six months.
If a third of Oklahomans never get the vaccine, they are still susceptible to the virus and the havoc it can wage on the body. The state's epidemiologist said he won't be satisfied with that many people still vulnerable.
"We're going to have concerns about those individuals, and we're going to want to aspire to a much higher level of uptake," Taylor said.
More than 240,000 Oklahomans have received a first dose of the vaccine, according to the Oklahoma State Health Department. About 36,000 people have received both doses.