Update (8:15 a.m. Wednesday): Pre-registration is open at vaccinate.oklahoma.gov, with limited appointment scheduling starting Thursday on the online portal.
Oklahomans will be asked a series of yes or no questions in a survey "to determine their eligibility to receive the vaccine within Oklahoma’s priority phase plan." The portal will let users opt-in to receive notifications when the vaccine is available to them.
Starting Thursday, the only groups who may schedule appointments through the portal are Oklahomans 65 or older, health care workers and/or first responders.
"Eligibility also doesn’t mean you’ll be able to receive an appointment right away," state health leaders said in a news release Wednesday.
The story below published in Wednesday's Tulsa World:
The state announced Tuesday that its online registration portal for the COVID-19 vaccine will go live Thursday, and the Tulsa Health Department hopes to use it to schedule appointments next week for people ages 65 and older.
Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Bruce Dart says COVID-19 vaccinations are going smoothly in Tulsa County, with 10,000 to 11,000 doses administered so far out of about 26,000 received as of last week. But he did note there is a data lag, so likely more have been given than what data show.
Dart said Tulsa County is finishing up Phase 1 and beginning Phase 2 with first responders, COVID outpatient health care providers and people ages 65 and older. He said the county could do more if vaccine allotments came in larger numbers.
The federal government is notifying the state of its vaccine shipments one week at a time, so state and local officials say they are scheduling vaccinations only a week in advance at this point.
“Some counties in Oklahoma are smaller, so they’re able to move quicker than Tulsa County,” Dart said, noting that Wednesday will begin THD’s fourth week of vaccine administration. “We’re still on the top edge of our Phase 2 grouping.”
The online portal wording used Tuesday in an Oklahoma State Department of Health news release is different from Monday, when state health officials described the registration system as an app during a virtual conference with reporters.
The state says the online portal will be accessible via a URL on desktop and mobile devices, serving as a “point of registration” for all Oklahomans to determine where they fall in line under the phased rollout.
Individuals can receive updates, notification of when they’re priority group is eligible and, once eligible, then sign up for a vaccine appointment. There isn’t an app to download for smartphones, only the web link to the portal.
“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,” said interim State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye, in a written statement. “We’re hopeful that the launch of this portal will ease confusion and create a seamless experience for all Oklahomans.”
OSDH noted that there isn’t a list for Oklahomans to be added to in order to be in the state’s phased vaccine rollout.
In addition to the pending web portal, the agency said people can visit oklahoma.gov/COVID19 or call 2-1-1 for updates or more information. OSDH updates can also be found on its social media channels.
On Monday, Deputy Commissioner Keith Reed addressed questions about why the registration system wasn’t ready sooner.
He said OSDH was planning to use a CDC-provided platform, but that it didn’t meet the state’s needs because it was an “all or nothing” proposition.
The primary concern, he said, was that it would require providers who already are trained on the state’s immunization registry to learn a new tool that would be overlaid on the existing system.
Instead, the state engaged with Microsoft to develop a system for points of distribution (POD) sites and large-volume clinics, he said.
“They’ve done a great job of putting it together, but as you can imagine, when you got a short time frame to put something like that together, you have occasional delays,” Reed said. “In this particular case, we just had a few days’ delay because of getting the POD sites entered into that particular system.”
He said another factor was that the state reached Phase 2 quicker than it thought would happen.
Dart spoke Tuesday during a Healthier Oklahoma Coalition virtual news conference. In describing how well distribution has gone so far in Tulsa County, he said THD’s partners are doing great.
There is a drive-through POD established, and people have been complimentary of how smooth the process was for them, he said.
“We have some light at the end of this long, dark COVID tunnel,” Dart said.
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As of today, Oklahomans can visit this portal at vaccinate.oklahoma.gov, but appointment scheduling will not be available until Thursday, January 7.
However, pre-registration is open for all Oklahomans to enter their personal information to determine their eligibility to receive the vaccine within Oklahoma’s priority phase plan and receive notifications when the vaccine is available to them.
Remember, beginning Jan. 7 only Oklahomans who are 65+, healthcare workers and/or first responders will be able to schedule appointments. As our state advances in our phased approach to vaccine distribution, the system will notify and allow individuals in additional priority groups and phases the opportunity to schedule their appointment.
Please note that eligibility also doesn’t mean you’ll be able to receive an appointment right away. Appointment availability will depend on vaccine supply in each county, which changes from week to week as the state receives more vaccine doses from the federal government.