- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2021

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma health officials plan to work with retailers and faith leaders in minority communities across the state to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health plans to unveil vaccine dispensing sites in minority communities across the state in the coming weeks, Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed said Friday.

“Ensuring equitable access to vaccines for Oklahomans across the state is a top priority,” Reed said. “Research shows disparities in both the number of COVID-19 cases and the willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine among these communities.”

Reed also encouraged Oklahomans to fill out information on their ethnicity when registering for a vaccine on the state’s online vaccine portal and noted that currently about 22% of those registering are not including information about their ethnicity.

“While this information is voluntary, we strongly encourage Oklahomans to provide this information as you register,” Reed said. “This helps us to make sure distribution of the vaccine is equitable and that we’re reaching Oklahomans in minority communities who need this vaccine as well.”

Oklahoma health officials reported 4,157 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 44 deaths on Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 370,149 and the state’s death toll to 3,231.

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