With over 72,000 initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered in Oklahoma, Dr. Brent Smith, a Lawton family practice physician is encouraging everyone to take the vaccine.

“I’m very excited about this vaccine as are most of the physicians in this community,” Smith said. “We are all excited about the new technology with this vaccine. We felt like it is a safer type of vaccine than we’ve seen in the past. We think that this technology that’s been developed is probably going to spill over into safer vaccines and other illnesses and they’re even talking about maybe looking at cancer treatment with this technology.”

Smith, who served on the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Advisory Council and the Oklahoma Board of Health, said the hesitation by some to take the vaccine may have much to do with trust in the government.

“Unfortunately, we’re at a point in the United States where we really have questions about the government and its honesty with us,” Smith said. “The government brought this situation on and they need to own it. We don’t trust them like we used to. But everyone needs to understand that these people at Johns Hopkins, Boston Medical and other facilities, these same people who are doing the research to develop these vaccines, are honest good people, and they are working hard in everyone’s best interest. We need to just kind of ignore the press ignore the politics about it and realize that these researchers are not political.”

Smith also sought to dispel some rumors regarding the vaccine as well as discuss it’s function. He said the vaccine, similar to other vaccines, allows the body to develop an antibody to that protein that allows it to replicate. The antibodies that you develop that gives you the immunity are the same antibodies that you develop from getting COVID-19, he said. If someone gets COVID, they’re going to get that antibody or if they get the vaccine, the’yre getting the same antibodies but it’s a lot safer. Essentially, he said, the vaccine allows someone to develop the antibodies without the hospitals and respirators.

“If you actually sit down and read the science about this, this allows the body to develop an antibody against the protein that allows that virus to replicate it does not change the cell, it does not change the DNA like you read on Facebook,” said Smith.

Smith said he was proud of the assistance he was able to provide as a member of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Advisory Council, a panel of Oklahoma doctors who helped develop the COVID-19 Vaccine Priority Population Framework for Oklahoma. He said although Oklahoma’s plan is close to the CDC’s model, he was very happy when Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt moved teachers from Phase 3 to Phase 2 of the plan.

“I’m very comfortable with how our plan turned out,” Smith said. “It’s very consistent with what’s going on. I think most states have the same priority — health care workers, nursing home people, people over 65 people with chronic illnesses — those are people that are dying and those are the people who need to get this vaccine.

Smith estimates with as many people as possible getting the vaccine and continuing to practice social distancing, washing hands and wearing a mask, Oklahomans can expect to start seeing restriction lifted by this summer.

“Even with the vaccine, until we see some drastic reductions in numbers, people are still at risk but I expect to see those numbers go down by this summer if we all get the vaccine and do what we’re supposed to do,” said Smith.

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