OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced it would allow residents from neighboring states and beyond to get the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Thursday, April 8.
“While our focus has been and will continue to be on vaccinating Oklahomans, we have always known there would be a point at which supply and increasing capacity would allow us to welcome residents from neighboring states into Oklahoma to get vaccinated,” Deputy Commissioner Keith Reed said. “We are now reaching that point and are happy to extend a welcome to our neighbors as part of our efforts to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the region. This virus does not adhere to boundaries drawn on a map, so by ensuring high vaccination rates across the region — not just Oklahoma — we are providing an extra layer of protection for our residents.”
Oklahoma would be among the first states in the nation to officially remove its residency requirement for the COVID-19 vaccine, according to OSDH officials. Last week, OSDH announced the state passed two million total doses administered.
“With supply consistently increasing week over week, additional access points coming on board each day and Oklahomans able to find readily available appointments across the state, we have a lot to be hopeful about in the coming months. But it’s going to require a continued commitment to our mitigation efforts,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye. “Now is not the time to let our guard down. We encourage Oklahomans to remain vigilant in following the 3 W’s as we work to vaccinate as many people across the region as possible and return to a sense of normalcy. If you have not yet signed up for your vaccine, I urge you to do so as soon as possible — it’s the best thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community.”
Tulsa Health Department Clinical Services Manager Ellen Niemitalo told 2 Works for You, the next step in safeguarding Oklahomans against the virus is by offering vaccines to the state's neighbors.
"There are people who may live in another state, but yet work in Oklahoma," she said. "People who might be coming to visit others that live in Oklahoma or live in Tulsa County, and we want those individuals protected."
It is unknown how many out-of-state residents will take advantage of Oklahoma's vaccine opportunities. According to the CDC, surrounding states Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas have administered between 80 and 89 percent of their first vaccine doses. New Mexico and Colorado have administered more than 90 percent.
The vaccine is also available to all citizens over 16 years old in each of those states except Missouri. All Missouri residents are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine beginning Friday.
"The demand is still out their for vaccines," Niemitalo said.
Niemitalo said Tulsa County vaccination numbers are encouraging as weekly appointments continue to fill up.
"Every step forward is really more and more exciting to get more and more people protected and vaccinated," she said.
The vaccine is currently available at no cost to all Oklahomans 16+. 16- and 17-year-olds can receive the Pfizer vaccine with parental consent and with a parent present at the vaccination site. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available to those 18+.
READ MORE: All adult Oklahomans to receive COVID-19 vaccine
Oklahomans 16+ are encouraged to register through the state’s Vaccine Scheduler Portal. Vaccine appointments are also available through many other local pandemic providers across the state. Oklahomans can ask their personal healthcare provider about the vaccine, or use the federal vaccine locator to check for appointments at local pharmacies.
“This is the right thing to do for our neighbors,” Reed said. “We hope to see other states that have fared well in administration rates follow suit as we all continue to work together to bring an end to this pandemic.”
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