OU Chief COVID Officer Dale Bratzler outlined the populations most likely to benefit from booster shots and regional hospital capacities in a Wednesday live stream.
Bratzler said he recommends immunocompromised populations — which include cancer patients currently receiving treatment, people with HIV and bone marrow transplant patients — receive the booster shot. Booster shots are available to individuals eight months after they are fully vaccinated.
A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association surveyed a CDC database that included 11.8 million Pfizer and Moderna doses for any adverse effects of the vaccines. The study didn’t reveal correlation between the vaccines and serious medical issues, Bratzler said.
Oklahoma currently ranks seventh in the nation for new cases in the last seven days, according to the CDC. As of Sept. 8, Oklahoma’s reported 1,300 new cases over that period.
Oklahoma County had the most cases this past week with 3,365 new cases, followed by Tulsa with 2,849 new cases and finally Cleveland County with 1,361 new cases, according to a report from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The City of Norman reports 648 new weekly cases as of Sept. 8.
Despite this, Dr. Bratzler said Oklahoma’s seven-day rolling average has gone down.
“What we've seen now is the seven day rolling average seems to have come down some, which is good news. The seven-day rolling average as of today was down to 2,532 cases on average daily, which is down. We peaked at around 2,800 cases,” Bratzler said.
Weekend testing is typically low during the weekend, Bratzler said, and as testing is staggered, the data may not be completely accurate.
“So the numbers were down today,” Bratzler said, “but I think we have to be cautious to make sure that the low numbers that we're seeing over the past few days don't simply reflect decreased testing … because of the weekend and holiday.”
Despite this, hospital capacity is still strained in some areas.
As of Aug. 27, Norman Regional Hospital reports 286.3 of 385 adult inpatient beds filled and 49.1 of 66 ICU beds filled. Stillwater Medical Center reports 72.1 of 74.3 adult inpatient beds filled and zero bed available in the ICU.
Stillwater declared a state of emergency due to the expected rise of hospitalizations following the Labor Day weekend. Stillwater Medical Center prepared for this by beginning to set up overflow tents for expected COVID-19 cases.
“You know, right now, I think the Oklahoma City hospitals have capacity to take care of the volume of patients that we're currently seeing,” Bratzler said. “But if we see another big surge, let's say there's a surge after Labor Day, then I think, you know, there could be some challenges.”