OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s deputy health commissioner said Friday that a change in the shipment of the coronavirus vaccines came unexpectedly and has left him frustrated in how to manage distribution of the vaccines, one from Pfizer and one from Moderna.
Keith Reed said he learned Thursday from a contact at Operation Warp Speed that shipments of second, or boost, doses of the vaccine will not be separated from the first, or prime, doses.
Reed said although the doses are identical medically, they were previously being sent as a prime does, then a boost dose, and differentiated as such.
“We were given a clear impression (in December) that for every prime dose we were receiving each week that there was an equivalent amount of vaccine held back for (a) second dose" to be shipped three to four weeks later, Reed said.
The boost dose could then be administered to those who had already received a prime dose. Now the health department must add managing the shipments to ensure those who have received the first dose receive the second dose in a timely manner, about 21 days apart for the Pfizer vaccine and 28 days for Moderna.
“When that program changed, we were not informed of it,” Reed said. ”We did not get a real clear brief from Operation Warp Speed about what was happening.”
The number of doses needed for the boost can be anticipated by looking at prior numbers of prime doses given, three weeks previously for Pfizer and four weeks for Moderna. But the public could be misled about the number of doses available in a given week because they are no longer separated as prime and boost doses, Reed said.
A total of 185,133 prime doses have been administered in Oklahoma since an emergency room nurse received the first dose on Dec. 14, according to Reed. An additional 29,239 people have received both doses, Reed said.
The health department reported increases of 3,538 virus cases and 43 additional deaths due to COVID-19 on Friday for totals of 348,044 cases and 2,925 deaths since the pandemic began in March.
Oklahoma had the fourth-highest rate of new cases per capita in the nation on Friday, with 1,358.58 per 100,000 residents, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases in the state has increased during the past two weeks from 2,626 new cases per day to 4,164.5 and the rolling average of deaths rose from 23 to 30 per day, according to the data.