Health Official Describes Work Behind COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout, Logistical Obstacles

Thursday, March 4th 2021, 6:37 pm
By: Erica Rankin


Deputy Commissioner of Health, Keith Reed, noted that the Oklahoma State Department of Health has been talking about the vaccine rollout since the beginning of the pandemic.

But as things got underway, they had to roll with the punches and make changes on the fly.

"This is something I have never seen or experienced at this level,” said Reed.

He said for years the state department of health has been working on plans to respond to a pandemic, but he said those plans weren't a good fit for COVID-19.

"COVID has not played by the rules since the start,” said Reed.

That was especially true for the rollout of the vaccines.

"Our plans weren't originally for a two-dose series,” said Reed. “Multiple vaccines that might have different dosing regiments, it wasn't necessarily made for something that requires ultra-cold storage.”

As vaccines began to enter the state back in December the OSDH began engaging partners to assist in things like PODS, or points of dispensing sites, to host large scale vaccination events.

"It is just one part of the strategy,” said Reed. “We know that we need to have smaller scale access points around the state that is why we are starting to engage pharmacies."

Oklahoma sits at sixth in the nation for vaccinations per 100,000 with just over 1.1 million doses administered to date.

But getting to this point hasn’t been a walk in the park.

“We are more careful now that we have confirmed the information, that we verify what they say is going to happen, happens,” said Reed.

Reed said that is just the reality of the situation but is hopeful vaccine supply will continue to increase.

"I look forward to the day we have enough vaccine supply that we can open up to all Oklahomans,” said Reed. “That is when I will breathe a sigh of relief in the program."