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As COVID vaccine becomes available, skepticism still exists

(Baylor Scott & White photo)
Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 10:23 PM CST
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Even as a much-anticipated vaccine for the coronavirus is being distributed to front-line workers across Oklahoma, officials say there is still much skepticism about the vaccine, including among health care workers.

An informal survey of health care workers across the state shows only about 35 to 40% are currently willing to take the vaccine, said Lawanna Halstead, a nurse and the vice president for quality and clinical initiatives with the Oklahoma Hospital Association.

Halstead said the latest numbers are an improvement from six to eight weeks ago, before the completion of the final phase of clinical trials, when only 24% of health care workers said they would take the vaccine.

“At that time, it was because they did not know about the trials,” Halstead said. “Since that has come out, that’s really boosted people’s confidence.”

In Oklahoma, emergency room nurse Hannah White on Monday became the first person in the state to receive Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.

Widespread acceptance of the vaccine is critical to eventually protecting enough of the U.S. population to defeat the outbreak. But just half of Americans say they want to get vaccinated, while about a quarter don’t and the rest are unsure, according to a recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Health Research.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 2,224 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Tuesday and 14 new deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 241,991 and the state’s death count to 2,086. The true number of infections in Oklahoma is likely higher because many haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Oklahoma has risen over the past two weeks from 13.43 deaths per day on Nov. 30 to 23 deaths per day on Dec. 14, while the average number of daily new cases in Oklahoma has risen from 2,839 per day to 3,054 new cases per day during the same period, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, the seven-day rolling average of the test positivity rate has declined slightly in Oklahoma, from 19.16% on Nov. 30 to 17.38% on Dec. 14.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.