Oklahoma Governor Says He Has No Plans to Receive Booster

Beverly Cantrell - December 29, 2021 9:44 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who was the nation’s first governor to confirm that he got COVID-19, said he doesn’t plan to get a booster shot even though state health officials are encouraging vaccinated people to do just that.

When asked by a reporter Monday if he plans to get a vaccine booster, the Republican governor responded: “No, probably not.”

“I’m perfectly healthy, and my doctor hasn’t told me I need to get it,” said Stitt, who contracted COVID-19 in July of 2020 and received Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine in March.

Stitt’s stance on getting a booster comes even though the state’s public health agency and medical community are encouraging Oklahomans to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or to get a booster if they’ve already been vaccinated.

“The best way to gather with confidence and protect against severe illness is to get vaccinated and get your booster shot,” Interim Health Commissioner Keith Reed said in a statement last week. “Eligible, unvaccinated individuals should consider getting the vaccine as quickly as possible and fully vaccinated individuals who have not yet gotten a booster shot should seek that out.”

FILE - Oklahoman Gov. Kevin Stitt looks back at the needle after looking away while being administered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following a news conference about opening vaccine eligibility on March 29, 2021, in Oklahoma City. Gov. Stitt says he has no plans to receive a vaccination booster shot. When asked by a reporter Monday, Dec. 27, 2021, if he plans to get a vaccine booster, the Republican governor responded: "No, probably not." Stitt says he's "perfectly healthy" and that his doctor hasn't told him he needs it. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

FILE – Oklahoman Gov. Kevin Stitt being administered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following a news conference about opening vaccine eligibility on March 29, 2021, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Federal health officials also have been urging all eligible Americans to get booster shots as quickly as possible, as the country faces a surge in the highly contagious omicron variant. Both Moderna and Pfizer have said that booster shots of their COVID-19 vaccines appear to offer protection against the new strain, which preliminary evidence suggests can better evade vaccines than previous variants.

Stitt got vaccinated in March after health officials opened vaccine eligibility to everyone in the state ages 16 and older. At the time, he said he hoped that receiving his shot publicly would encourage people who might be hesitant to get vaccinated.

Only about 53% of Oklahomans are fully vaccinated, which is well below the national average of 61.8% and far behind Vermont’s first-in-the-nation rate of 77.3%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the vaccine and public health efforts to promote it have often drawn the ire of some conservatives. When former President Donald Trump revealed during an event in Dallas last week that he received a vaccine booster, the crowd booed him.

 

 

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