State Health Officials Renew Calls For Oklahomans To Get Vaccinated In Order To Reach Herd Immunity

Thursday, April 15th 2021, 4:59 pm
By: Erica Rankin

Health officials in the state are making a plea to Oklahomans to get the COVID-19 vaccine if they haven't already gotten it.

This happens as the CDC confirmed 11 cases of five different variants in the state. Doctors said the only way to slow the spread of these variants is to get vaccinated as they work to sequence for more of the variants.

“We are working the CDC on sending specimens to them and partner labs to test for variants,” said Jolianne Stone, the state’s deputy epidemiologist.

The state has also been working toward sequencing for variants and the state’s public health lab. They hope in the near future they will be able to sequence 7,000 specimens a day, putting them on track to sequence as much as 10% of the state’s COVID-19 tests.

“We may not be able to truly tell the true impact or the true distribution as to what might be here in Oklahoma,” said Stone. “But, it certainly gives us a good indication of what might be here and what we can do to help.”

Stone said one of the ways people can help is by getting vaccinated.

“The vaccine has done a really good job in diminishing and decreasing the symptoms and severity of the disease, whether it is the variant or the wild type,” said Stone.

Dr. Dale Batlzer, OU Health’s chief COVID-19 officer, said we need vaccinations to pick up to reach herd immunity as well.

"By summertime, maybe late summer, we may approach herd immunity in Oklahoma,” Bratzler said. “But, again, that assumes the immunity from previous immunity holds up, but studies suggest that immunity isn’t as good as being vaccinated."

The threshold to reach herd immunity has been hard for doctors to pinpoint with COVID-19, but they think around 70 to 80% of the population needs to have some sort of immunity to reach it.

"If we had an outbreak of the U.K. variant as an example in Oklahoma and we have a lot of people who don’t have immunity, it can spread quite rapidly,” said Bratzler.

As of right now, data shows about 25% of the state’s adults have been fully vaccinated.