Regardless of how hard state and local health officials work, the lack of a coordinated national response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hamper mitigation efforts. 

Hopes that the rollout of new vaccines developed at a record pace would hasten a return to normalcy have faded to frustration for many. Missteps by the federal government delayed distribution from the pharmaceutical companies, and efforts to get the vaccines into arms of Oklahomans faltered.  

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday in its COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiology Report that just 99,373 of the 264,000 doses allocated by the federal government have been administered. Nearly half of those doses were administered this year — more than 4,600 reportedly were the required second dose administered after about three weeks. 

Oklahoma was among the first 11 states on Dec. 21 to launch a federal program, partnering with CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate long-term care residents. CNHI learned this week the state is among the last states to get vaccines into residents' arms through the federal partnership program. 

“We have been concerned about the rate at which the long-term care facility program has rolled out,” Keith Reed, the state deputy commissioner of health, told CNHI this week. “However, the schedules we are currently showing is that all facilities are being scheduled for the first visit by mid-February at the latest.”

The state launched an online portal that allowed other Oklahomans to go through a screening process and pre-register for vaccinations. Technically, the site functioned well, but finding a location that had the vaccine available within an two-hour drive from these parts seemed to be a roll of the dice.  

Those who rely on telephones, or find it difficult to access — or navigate — the internet, found it next to impossible to contact local health departments to schedule an appointment for a vaccination. 

There was a bright spot: County health departments in District 7 combined forces Friday to vaccinate nearly 1,200 health care workers and residents 65 years and older. With support from local community partners, there were reports that the event was well organized and operated without interruption throughout the day. 

As the number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to climb to new daily highs in most states, the demand grows even greater. Limited supplies makes the logistics of distribution and delivery even more important. 

Everybody should all be working from the same playbook. 

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