COVID NEWS UPDATE: OSDH (Oklahoma State Department of Health) and the online portal for COVID-19 vaccine registration
Published: January 23rd, 2021
On January 7, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) launched an online registration portal to help Oklahomans determine when they are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and how to schedule an appointment when it is their turn.
Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye and Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed held a virtual news conference to announce the launch of the Vaccine Scheduling Appointment App, or VSAA.
The online tool went live as the state began Phase 2 of its vaccine distribution plan. Oklahomans can visit this portal at vaccinate.oklahoma.gov .
Phase 1, which includes frontline health care workers and long-term care facility residents is still underway statewide.
Oklahoma moved into Phase 2 as the Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD) began vaccinating people age 65 and older, with additional vaccination clinics to be announced.
To provide increased access, OSDH initiated vaccination “PODS” or Points of Dispensing Sites across the state where individuals who qualify to receive the vaccine can do so safely.
A press release stated that OSDH is exploring additional options for individuals who are not able to access the internet or a computer. For now, the agency recommends consulting with a friend or family member for assistance, or calling their local county health department or 211 hotline (https://www.211oklahoma.org/) .
Efficient progress through the distribution plan relies on the supply of vaccine doses available and the ability to make them accessible to additional priority groups by distributing to local providers, according to Reed.
However, the roll out hasn’t gone as smoothly as planned.
As reported on Jan. 19 by KFOR-TV (https://kfor.com/news/local/private-developers-release-text-alerts-for-covid-19-vaccine-appointments-in-oklahoma/ ), officials say “close to a quarter of a million Oklahomans have at least gotten their first shot. But many more are waiting and frustration is growing for citizens, as well as Oklahoma State Department of Health officials.”
KFOR also reported that although thousands of residents say they are eligible to receive a vaccine, they have been unable to do so through the state’s vaccine portal.
OSDH encourages Oklahomans to continue using the Vaccinate.oklahoma.gov portal to register and find available appointments when posted.
President Joe Biden has declared that slowing down the spread of Covid-19 and getting 100 million vaccine shots into Americans’ arms in his first 100 days in office are of utmost priority.
Officials say Oklahoma gets between 80,000 and 90,000 doses a week, which Reed says “is not nearly enough.”
“When the state’s vaccine portal rolled out, technology gap rooted it’s head again because a lot of seniors don’t have access to computers,” said Eileen Bradshaw (https://www.kjrh.com/news/local-news/oklahoma-covid-vaccine-portal-is-troubling-many-seniors-help-means-long-call-waits ) of Life Senior Services of Tulsa. “Many don’t have email addresses, which are needed to register.”
[As of late this past week,] The U.S. had administered 17.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Inc. vaccines nationally, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine tracker
This number is far short of the last administration’s goal of administering 20 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020.
On Thursday, (Jan. 21) Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease doctor, said that Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine now has sufficient data from its late-stage Covid-19 vaccine trial to begin analysis soon.
Currently, Oklahomans 65 and up are the majority of the people waiting for an injection. Reed says they have not opened up shots to people under 65 with comorbidities yet.
“We know there are many who are interested in receiving the vaccine, and the state is continually updating the website to make it easier to use,” Reed added.
“Please keep in mind, there are a limited number of vaccines available, so we ask Oklahomans to be patient, and continue being vigilant utilizing the three W’s (wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands).”
For detailed information about the vaccine distribution plan and the priority populations included in each phase, visit oklahoma.gov/COVID10 or call 2-1-1 .
To register and find available appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine, visit here: Vaccinate.Oklahoma.gov .