Oklahoma opening coronavirus vaccinations to all residents
March 24, 2021
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma is joining an increasing number of states that will offer the coronavirus vaccine to all adults, deputy state health commissioner Keith Reed said Tuesday.
The health department will begin making appointments Monday for an estimated 500,000 people not yet eligible to register for the vaccine, Reed said.
"If you are over 16 and live in Oklahoma you are eligible and should get vaccinated," Reed said, noting that only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for 16- and 17-year-olds. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for those 18 and older.
More than 1.6 million vaccines have been administered in the state, Reed said, including more than 586,000 who have received the full dosage, but continued vaccinations is key to controlling the pandemic. Oklahoma has a population of nearly 4 million.
"There is a sense of relief" in opening the vaccination program, Reed said, "but there is also a sense of urgency that we still have to continue forward momentum" in vaccinating as many people as possible to slow the spread of the virus.
Alaska was the first state to open up vaccine eligibility to all adults and states including Texas, Tennessee and Missouri are following suit.
Oklahoma has reported 435,634 virus cases since the pandemic began, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported Tuesday. The agency reported 7,728 deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, based on death certificates reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Monday, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission announced that it had paid the federal unemployment benefits that were extended as a result of the COVID-19 relief package.
"OESC paid out benefits to more than 63,000 claimants totaling more than $46 million on the first day payments could be distributed without a delay in payments from the previous benefits package," agency director Shelley Zumwalt said.
The relief bill extends federal unemployment benefits and related programs through Sept. 6.