County officials set vaccination clinics for October

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Sep. 24—Pittsburg County officials will host vaccination pods in the coming weeks.

McAlester/Pittsburg County Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Enloe said his department is partnering with the Pittsburg County Health Department to conduct a pod for COVID-19 and flu vaccinations.

"That will be for the booster shots, first round and second round shots for those that need them — and we'll be doing drive-through flu shots at the same time at that pod," Enloe said.

The dual-purpose vaccination pod for COVID-19 shots and flu jabs is set for Oct. 13 at the Expo Center in McAlester.

Oklahoma State Department of Health's COVID-19 data shows 8,175 deaths in the state.

Flu deaths and hospitalizations since September 2020 total just 285, per OSDH data.

Data from the OSDH shows 6,323 total cumulative cases, 6,050 assumed recoveries, and 90 total deaths in Pittsburg County — or 183 active cases.

The number of active cases dipped from recent weeks with as many as 449 on Sept. 8 — but the number of deaths in the county rose by five during that span.

Medical experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccination, which is safe and effective.

The CDC states mRNA vaccines help cells make a protein that triggers an immune response to protect against infectious diseases. The vaccines do not give someone COVID-19, nor do the vaccines interact with DNA.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky ruled late Thursday people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those older than 50 who have chronic health problems like diabetes should be offered a booster six months past their last Pfizer dose.

Walensky overruled objections from her own advisory panel in saying younger people with underlying health problems, and people at increased risk of infection because of their jobs or their living conditions can decide on whether to get the booster past the six-month mark.

A Pittsburg County Health Department representative said the ruling means "booster shots should be received for 65 and up, and residents of long-term care facilities," as well as people aged 60-64 with underlying medical conditions.

The representative said the ruling means people aged 18-49 may get it, in addition to people 18-64 in high-risk jobs or conditions.

President Joe Biden announced Aug. 18 that long-term care facilities staff will be required to be vaccinated for those facilities to receive Medicare and Medicaid funding.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services created an online tool to reflect COVID-19 vaccine data at those facilities — reporting as of Sept. 5, 2021, the five nursing homes in McAlester average 66.8% of residents vaccinated and 41.44% of staff vaccinated.

Approximately 182 million Americans or 55% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Enloe said his department continues "to support the health department's operations" and supply personal protection equipment as needed.

The county health department will also host a drive-through flu vaccination clinic Oct. 1 at its office at 1400 E. College Ave. in McAlester.

Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

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