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Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt told reporters on Monday that he would “probably not” get the COVID-19 booster shot. Stitt, who received the Johnson and Johnson single dose vaccine in March, said his doctor hadn’t told him to do so.
“I’m perfectly healthy and my doctor hasn’t told me I need to get it,” Stitt told reporters.
The news comes as Oklahoma ranks highest nationwide for rate of death from COVID-19 in the nation. Nearly one out of every 400 people in the state have died from the virus since the pandemic began. The state also ranks among the ten lowest in vaccination rates nationally, making the governor’s comments even more bewildering.
In an interview with Tara Blume of KFOR News, Dr. Dale Bratzler of OU Health said it was “highly unlikely” a doctor would not recommend the booster shot.
“About the only reason I can think of to not recommend the booster shot would be someone who had a serious allergic reaction or profound complication” to the vaccine before, Dr. Bratzler said.
As Oklahoma languishes, other Republican governors put politics aside to protect their citizens
Asa Hutchinson, the conservative Republican governor from Arkansas, had a starkly different message on Monday. In an interview with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly, Hutchinson said “vaccinations are critically important, both in the first shots, but also the booster shot.”
Hutchinson also called disinformation “harmful” and noted the importance of his state’s government educating the public with strong messaging about getting the vaccine.
In a video conference with President Biden and the nation’s governors, Hutchinson thanked the president for his support to states.
“Thank you for your comments designed to de-politicize COVID response,” Hutchinson told the president. “I think that was helpful.”
“Your task force… has been responsive and kept us informed every step of the way,” the Republican governor continued.
In Oklahoma, however, Governor Stitt’s office has been doing little to push similar messaging about vaccine importance. Instead, the Governor’s office has spent taxpayer money on campaign-style ads against federal vaccine mandates.
According to Chris Polansky of Public Radio Tulsa, Stitt’s office has declined to comment about the state’s death rates.