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Oklahoma expands COVID vaccine eligibility to nearly 40,000 more residents

A health worker fills out a COVID vaccination card on Tuesday. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
A health worker fills out a COVID vaccination card on Tuesday. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

Beginning Monday, roughly 40,000 more Oklahomans will be eligible to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine.

The state will expand eligibility to the last groups in Phase 2 of its distribution plan, including staff and residents in congregate locations and worksites.

Those locations include homeless shelters, prisons and jails, some manufacturing facilities without appropriate space for social distancing, and public transit systems.

Front-line public health staff as well as senior state, city and county government leaders and elected officials will also be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday.

“Now that there are three vaccines available, and our overall supply is steadily increasing, we are ready to open up vaccine appointments for the remaining priority groups outlined in phase two of our state vaccination plan,” Keith Reed, Oklahoma’s deputy commissioner of health, said Friday.

Reed said the state is “well ahead” of its goal to have teachers and school staff members who want to be vaccinated to receive a dose by spring break. The state is also ahead of President Joe Biden’s goal to vaccinate teachers by the end of March, he said.

“For any teachers or school staff that were still undecided, or for whatever reason could not take advantage of the opportunity provided, we encourage you to make an appointment through one of the variety of access points now available and get vaccinated,” Reed said.

Because the last group of people becoming eligible in Phase 2 is smaller compared to the last group the state added, which included over a million people, Reed said he hopes Oklahoma will be able to open up appointments for its next phase soon.

Reed said he anticipates that the state will be able to move on to its third phase of vaccine eligibility in April, though that timeline could change.

Phase 3 includes a broader group of educational staff and students, as well as a large swath of “critical infrastructure personnel,” or essential workers.

Those who were already eligible to get vaccinated — including health care workers, teachers and school staff for pre-K through 12th grade, and Oklahomans with certain health conditions — are still eligible to sign up for appointments.

Combining data for vaccinations from state and federal resources, 1,181,414 vaccines have been administered in Oklahoma, and more than 426,000 people are fully vaccinated as of Friday, Reed said.

Dana Branham

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