With the beginning of the school year, there has been much anticipation and similar levels of dread for students returning to the classroom. The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy has not faltered in our position that we want students to return to in-person learning, but only in the safest conditions possible.
We are also aware of the fatigue with many slowly “slacking off” with their protections, but with the increase in childhood cases, every effort must be exerted within the bounds of common sense to protect yourself and those around you.
To that point, thanks needs to be extended to the leadership of the Oklahoma City Public School [OKCPS] system for their efforts to keep students, faculty, staff, parents and those around each as safe as possible. In the coming weeks, OKCPS will host COVID-19 vaccination clinics at all of their middle and high schools, which will allow students who are old enough and interested in receiving the vaccine to be fully vaccinated by Fall Break.
This vaccine opportunity is made possible through a partnership with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department [OCCHD]. Additionally, they have provided for students under the age of 18 a downloadable consent form for a parent or guardian to sign, or forms will be made available at the school for the student to take home with them.
We encourage every school system in the state to follow suit with their own county health departments and make it convenient for those who want to vaccine to receive it.
There is some very good news for those who have been waiting on their vaccination to move beyond the “experimental” stage. The Food and Drug Administration on Monday granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older, making it the first to move beyond emergency use status in the United States. We wish this could have been done more quickly, but it is certainly good that the necessary precautions and research were done thoroughly.
Additionally, the first booster shot is now in the beginning stages for those who qualify. If you were in the first round earlier this year, you should soon qualify.
Last week, Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Lance Frye reported that in the last 30 days, 92% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state have been among individuals who are unvaccinated.
There is also good news though as our state is improving with their rates of vaccinations. Last week, 3,642,556 total doses had been administered to Oklahomans, with 1,654,529 Oklahomans having completed the full series.
In that number, you have 41.8% of the total population currently being fully vaccinated with two shots, which breaks down to 52.6% of the adult population. For the senior population, 76.7% of the 65-plus population is fully vaccinated.
For those who have received just one dose, that totals up to 2,019,902 Oklahomans have received at least one dose; this raises the vaccinated rate to 51% of the total population, with 63.4% of the adult population falling into this category, and 81.1% of the 65-plus population halfway there on their fully vaccinated level for the initial response.
With this good news and the bad associated, we again request that you do everything in your power to stay masked up when possible, get your vaccination when it is available, keep washing your hands frequently, and consider donating blood to help those who are fighting this in the hospitals.
– Former state Rep. Joe Dorman is CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy