By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —
OKLAHOMA CITY — On Thursday, January 7, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) will launch an online registration portal to help Oklahomans determine when they are eligible to receive the 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 Monday to announce the upcoming launch of the Vaccine Scheduling Appointment App, or VSAA, reported Barry Mangold of News9.com.
The online tool will go live on Thursday as the state begins Phase 2 of its vaccine distribution plan Mangold reported.
Now 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, however Reed said areas that are ready to move forward “are welcome to do so”.
As Oklahoma moves into Phase 2 of vaccine distribution, the Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD) will begin vaccinating people age 65 and older on Thursday, with additional vaccination clinics planned this month.
To provide increased access, OSDH is initiating vaccination “PODS” or Points of Dispensing Sites across the state where individuals who are set to begin receiving the vaccine can do so safely in the coming weeks.
“This is an exciting step, as we now have the opportunity to vaccinate larger priority groups in Oklahoma,” said Dr. Frye stated. “We know Oklahomans are eager to find out when and where they can get the vaccine, and we’re thankful for their patience as our team quickly works to develop innovative solutions.
“We’re hopeful that the launch of this portal will ease confusion and create a seamless experience for all Oklahomans,” Frye said.
According to the press release, 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.
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.
As the state continues to receive supply and set up additional access points in communities, they will have the ability to serve additional population groups.
“We have always planned to roll out the vaccine in an overlapping manner versus waiting for 100 percent completion of one group before starting another,” Reed said.
“This helps ensure efficient use of resources to maximize available vaccine and vaccinators, Reed continued. “Moving into a new priority group does not close the door on the previous groups, it simply adds another opportunity for more vaccinations.”
Appointment availability is dependent on vaccine supply in each county.
COVID-19 vaccinations will begin in Oklahoma County at 8 a.m. on Thursday (Jan. 7) at Mercy Hospital, 4300 W. Memorial Road until 6 p.m. to those who were able to secure an appointment online Tuesday morning. Within minutes residents snapped up all available appointments for that day.
The OCCHD website says more opportunities to receive the vaccine will be made available next week.
For updates on Oklahoma’s vaccine distribution progress, follow OSDH on Facebook (facebook.com/OklahomaHealth) or on Twitter at @HealthyOklahoma and @OKVaccine.
This story first appeared online on Jan. 8, 2021.