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Oklahoma health experts respond to new federal vaccine guidance

Posted at 6:55 PM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 10:07:04-05

TULSA, Okla. — Oklahoma medical experts are hesitant to endorse a new federal vaccine strategy aimed at getting more people vaccinated.

The Trump administration is expected to ask state and local health departments to speed-up giving COVID-19 vaccines to people older than 65 and others at high risk. They would do this by giving the second dose of the vaccine to those who haven’t had a first shot.

Some health experts told 2 Works for You they’re concerned a single-dose of vaccine won’t be enough to protect against the virus.

“Neither Pfizer or Moderna vaccines were studied that way in the clinical trials. They weren’t studied to give one dose,” chair of the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition, Dr. Jean Hausheer said.

Federal guidance said the single dose strategy would allow more people to get their first dose providing them some immunity. The idea is to give more time for Pfizer and Moderna to produce more doses of their vaccines. But in doing so, it could take away the second dose of vaccines that bring immunity up about 95% for those who’ve already had one shot.

“It’s critically important that everybody gets two doses,” Dr. Hausheer said.

New data shows people have anywhere between a 50-80 percent immunity after their first dose. But, there’s a lack of data showing how long immunity lasts after a single dose.

Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell said he’s interested in the idea of more people getting vaccinated.

“Oklahoma is doing a good job at getting it out but we need more of it,” Pinnell said.

Meanwhile, the Tulsa Health Department said it will stay with the state’s original vaccine strategy of two shots per person until further notice. That means holding back the second dose to make sure people get both shots.

While the roll-out of the vaccine may seem slow, Oklahoma ranks 11th the nation for the number of vaccinations given so far, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. More than 310,000 doses of vaccine have arrived in Oklahoma, and more than 154,000 people have been vaccinated.

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