Oklahoma institute donates ultra-cold freezers for vaccine

Mike Seals - December 29, 2020 11:08 am

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma agricultural research organization announced Monday it will donate 11 ultra-cold freezers to the state that health officials say will help expedite the distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

The freezers, donated by the Noble Research Institute based in Ardmore, will allow more Oklahomans to receive the vaccine at their local health care providers, limiting travel for people during the pandemic, Oklahoma Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed said. The Pfizer vaccine must be shipped and stored at ultra-cold temperatures.

“These storage units are a critical piece in providing all Oklahomans, whether in a rural or urban area, with equal access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” Reed said in a statement.

Through Saturday, the most recent data available from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, nearly 30,000 doses of the 122,750 vaccines the state has received so far have been distributed, or less than 25%. But Reed said a lag in data entry can lead to some underreporting of vaccine administration information.

Reed noted that delays in administering the vaccines are largely tied to ensuring the first to receive it are priority populations, including front-line health care workers and staff and residents of long-term care facilities.

“I am not sure we would ever be fully satisfied with the rate at which we are able to convert a shipment of vaccine doses into vaccinated Oklahomans, as we would ideally like to be able to immediately vaccinate everyone,” Reed said, “but there are logistical requirements necessary to set up clinics and process patients.”

Oklahoma reported 3,448 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Monday and 13 additional deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 282,587 and the state’s death toll to 2,383 since the pandemic began in March. The actual number of coronavirus cases is believed to be far higher because many people haven’t been tested and some who get the disease don’t show symptoms.

The 7-day rolling average of daily deaths, new cases and positivity rate in Oklahoma all declined over the past two weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with daily deaths dropping from 24 deaths per day on Dec. 13 to 22.57 deaths per day on Dec. 27.


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