It was good to hear this week the supply of COVID-19 vaccines available is catching up with demand.
Thanks to collaborative partnerships, intergovernmental cooperation and strong leadership three vaccines developed quickly and safely during trying times are being administered at an average rate of more than 2 million doses a day.
That’s good news for those who are looking forward to a return to normalcy sooner rather than later. It’s also demonstrates what can be accomplished when Americans pull together as a team to accomplish a common goal.
Oklahomans continue to be vaccinated at per capita rates that are greater than residents in all surrounding states except New Mexico. That is due largely to efforts coordinated by county health departments across the states and the support and collaboration from local partners that included municipalities and local pharmacies.
Cherokee Nation and other tribal governments deserve credit for the leadership demonstrated throughout the pandemic. When essential workers and the most vulnerable populations were vaccinated, the Cherokee Nation stepped up to help all residents of its 14-county reservation get vaccinated regardless of tribal affiliation or citizenship.
That offer was extended later to all members of the public as the availability of vaccines increased. The common goal shared by all those who have helped vaccinate Oklahomans is to make our communities safer and restore some sense of normalcy.
As vaccine availability increases, states have begun lifting eligibility restrictions. While Oklahoma remained in Phase 3 on Friday, those who were 16 years and older in an academic setting, essential workers and others are eligible for vaccinations.
While the availability of these vaccines offer some hope, now is not the time to let down our guard. Recent data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the risk for community transmission was substantial this past week in Muskogee County — test positivity rates actually trended higher to 9.43% for a seven-day rolling average.
We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to remain vigilant. The best available evidence shows the vaccines that have been approved for emergency use are safe and effective.
One local pharmacist expressed concern about vaccine going to waste. We should not let that happen.