THD Says Demand For COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Still Pretty Strong’ Ahead of Federal Site Opening Next Week

Wednesday, April 14th 2021, 5:17 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

TULSA, Oklahoma -

A federally run mass vaccination site is set to open in one week in Tulsa. The goal is to give COVID-19 shots to 21,000 people every week for the next two months. 

According to data on the State Department of Health website, more than one million Oklahomans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.  

In Tulsa, health officials said demand is still strong. 

A large COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Claremore Expo Center Wednesday was prepared to vaccinate 5,000 people.  

Oklahoma State Department of Health Region 4 Health Planning Coordinator Taylor Thompson said, only half that number showed up.  

While the clinic initially required appointments, he said they were welcoming walk-ins. The clinic was set to end at 3:30 p.m. As of about 2:00 p.m., he said 2,500 shots had been administered.  

“We are seeing in our rural communities that the demand is down a little bit because mainly there is supply everywhere now. Walmart, pharmacies, local pharmacies. So, when we do our big POD vaccination events, they don't necessarily have to come with us, they can get those other places as well,” Thompson said.  

Thompson said those leftover shots will not go to waste and will be stored, then sent to other Oklahoma vaccine sites.  

Tulsa Health Department Clinic Services Manager Ellen Niemitalo said appointments at THD sites are still filling up, and there is plenty of supply.  

She estimated THD is administering between 1,200 and 1,400 shots every day at their sites.  

"In Tulsa, the demand is still pretty strong,” Niemitalo said.  

Starting April 21, federal workers will be at TCC’s Northeast Campus, ready to vaccinate nearly 170 thousand people over eight weeks. 

“Time will tell a little bit what impact that the big clinic is going to have on the demand with the other providers and the demand at the Tulsa Health Department sites,” Niemitalo said.  

Oklahoma State Medical Association President Dr. Mary Clarke also said the demand for the vaccine is there. She also said access is a challenge for some, especially in rural areas.  

"We still have a lot of people in Oklahoma who are not vaccinated and there are still people who want to be vaccinated,” Dr. Clarke said.  

Back in Claremore, Thompson said at least two people from out-of-state got the shot at Wednesday’s clinic.  

"A gentleman from California and there was a gentleman from Indiana,” Thompson said. 

He said they both recently uprooted their lives and moved to Oklahoma but are not technically residents just yet.  

"They were moving here to look for work and then they were able to get that vaccine, it was kind of a double thing for them,” Thompson said.  

The Tulsa Health Department said it will be adding about 4,000 new appointments to the portal Wednesday evening, for people to get vaccinated at their sites next week.