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‘All hands on deck’ for health department

Maggie Jackson is a busy person these days. She is the engagement and planning director for Canadian County Health Department.
Jackson and the other health department employees have been using all their resources to help distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals in the area including in Yukon and throughout Canadian County.

Canadian County Health Department engagement and planning director Maggie Jackson addresses the Yukon City Council during a planning session held before this week’s regular council meeting. Photo / Mark Codner

Among duties for Jackson was an informational presentation at this week’s Yukon City Council meeting and then participation at the following morning’s meeting of the Mayor’s COVID-19 Task Force.
“We’re trying to get as much vaccine out to the population as possible but are facing some barriers,” Jack-son said. “We are asking everyone for patience. We want to get this vaccine out as soon as possible to as many as possible.”
Barriers have included the time it takes to vaccinate individuals, the amount of vaccines being distributed at a time, and the demand for vaccines.
About 1,200-1,400 shots are coming to Canadian County at a time from a cold storage facility in Enid, and vaccinations are being given at the rate of about 50 in 15 minutes. Vaccine recipients must be watched for another 15 minutes, as well. Appointments for the vaccination clinics have been rapidly booked, and those who miss the opportunity must wait for the next vaccination event.
Jackson said, “We are adding more events and more appointments.”
Area residents who want to book a vaccination must go to https://
vaccinate.oklahoma.gov. They can preenroll now and will be notified when they qualify for an available appointment, she added.
While health care professionals were the first tier to be offered vaccinations, a second tier included remaining health care workers and included individuals who are age 65 and older, creating a bigger demand for the available appointments.
This was reflected in an event Friday at Redlands Community College where appointments quickly filled up. The second event at Red-lands, which was scheduled for next Friday, is also full.
Even with the demand, there are those who are still concerned about the safety of the vaccine. During the update to Yukon City Council, councilman Aric Gilliland asked Jackson
where the best place is for area residents to find information.
Jackson said both the Moderna and the Pfizer manufacturers have published their own data and it can be accessed on their websites. She said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is another site which has data, and it includes information for women who are pregnant or who are planning to get pregnant.
“Everyone who receives the vaccine also receives information,” Jackson said.
Another barrier for the health department is the amount of people it takes to put on a vaccination event.
“When we do an event, it’s all hands on deck,” Jackson said. “Everyone who works for the health department is working. Staff is our biggest limitation so if you are a volunteer we could use your help.”
Jackson said volunteers can sign up to volunteer at https://www.okmrc.org/.
Mayor Selby noted that at a previous event she attended, she never saw a person idle who was working the event.

Defense against COVID-19
Jackson used part of her time in front of the city council to tout the science of communities using masks. She said there are several communities in the area who have mask mandates, although Yukon is not among them. She said the health department continues to recommend policies for promoting masks in the schools and throughout the community.
She said scientific evidence backs up the use of masks, and research has been done through the use of controlled laboratory experiments, epidemiological studies, and population studies. As well, Jackson said the health department began following communities that implemented a mask mandate last year, and those communities showed a notable difference in rates of COVID-19, versus communities that did not have a policy.
Jackson said the best defense against COVID-19 continues to be masks, social distancing, and hand washing.

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