By Glen Miller
El Reno Tribune
The first doses of the new COVID-19 vaccine will be administered in Canadian County on Thursday at health-care sites in El Reno, Yukon and Mustang, said Maggie Jackson, Canadian County Health Department spokeswoman.
The first doses in Yukon are being given to healthcare workers at INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital.
“We are excited and hope this will be getting back to some normalcy. This is the first step in dealing with this virus. I see this as a privilege to be a part of this unprecedented effort between science and government. As tough of a year this has been, this is a big part of history,” Jackson said.
Canadian County is one of eight counties making up District 2, which received its portion of Oklahoma’s first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine. The state was allotted 33,000 doses of the vaccine, which was the first to gain emergency approval last week from the Food and Drug Administration.
The other counties are Alfalfa, Blaine, Garfield, Grant, Kingfisher, Logan and Major.
In El Reno, the vaccine will be administered at the SSM St. Anthony emergency room. The Mustang site will be at the SSM Healthplex there, while the Yukon site will be INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital.
Jackson said the first round of vaccinations will focus on health-care workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. Canadian County ranks fourth in the state among total cases with 8,859 as of Dec. 15. The county has had 44 deaths and 7,725 recoveries.
District 2 has had 22,056 positive tests since the pandemic began.
“The eight counties in our district got just over 1,950 doses. We looked at the hospitals in our district and who was ready and willing to get the vaccine. We feel like we have enough to cover all the health-care workers who are ready to get vaccinated.
“It’s not mandatory, but we know we have enough to do at least half this week and do more later when we get our next shipment,” Jackson said.
The District 2 dosages are being stored in Enid.
“It has to be kept at a negative 70 to 80 degrees. There are some storage facilities in the Oklahoma City area, but hospitals in the county had to have time to coordinate who would be getting the vaccine. We decided to have central operations out of Enid because of the space and it was better logistically for the district,” said Jackson.
Jackson said workers at all eight District 2 health departments have been trained on how to handle the vaccine.
“All the nursing staffs have been trained on how to handle the vaccine and the cold temperatures. We will utilize dry ice and refrigeration to transport them. Everyone is on point with what to do in transport and handling.”
Jackson said the Oklahoma National Guard is providing security during transportation of the vaccine.
“We have considered added extra security into our plans and we have people lined out for that, but we are really not too concerned about it,” said Jackson.
Jackson said District 2 will be getting more dosages of the Pfizer vaccine.
“We will get another shipment shortly. We know that we will get our share of the state’s next round of 166,000 dosages before January. We expect to get one more shipment of the Pfizer vaccine but the Moderna vaccine should get approval by then and we will get some of those shipments as well,” said Jackson.