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OSDH encouraging vaccine booster shots ahead of holidays as COVID cases rise

Posted at 6:25 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 08:02:36-05

TULSA, Okla. — State health leaders are urging citizens to get the vaccine and booster shot as the case number in the seven-day rolling average increases.

The Oklahoma State Dept. of Health said more than half of Oklahomans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

OSDH Interim Commissioner of Health Keith Reed said 20 percent of new cases over the past month are breakthrough infections, but less than one percent of those breakthrough cases required hospitalization.

“The average time frame between an individual’s last dose of the primary series and a positive diagnosis was 228 days, indicating a majority of these individuals would have been eligible for a booster dose at the time of infection," Reed said.

OSDH also discussed the omicron variant. It’s now been found in at least 23 states but has not been detected in Oklahoma just yet. While it’s getting a lot of attention right now, the delta variant is still running rampant.

“Delta is still the primary variant in the United States and makes up 99 percent of cases," said Dr. Gitanjali Pai, chief medical officer at OSDH.

OSDH is asking labs to send 10 percent of their positive PCR tests to them for sequencing. That will help determine which variants are in Oklahoma. However, an increase in at-home testing and rapid tests is leading to a decrease in the number of tests available for sequencing.

“There’s no way to sequence an amount that is equal to all the positive tests we see in the population anyway," Reed said. "So, our focus is on those that are PCR based so that we can make sure and get an adequate sampling of the population.”

The state is also seeing a 20 percent rise in hospitalizations. However, Reed said they’re still well below the level in previous surges. Reed also said he wouldn’t even call this increase a surge right now.

“And hopefully, with the amount of vaccinations we have out there, combined with natural immunity, we’ll see less severe impacts from this one in the way of severe illness or even hospitalizations," Reed said.

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