Virus Outbreak Oklahoma

Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Lance Frye, M.D., speaks during a news conference July 9 in Oklahoma City. Despite rising numbers of confirmed cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 infections in Oklahoma, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt said he remains opposed to mandating that residents wear masks.

Oklahomans will be able to start scheduling their vaccination appointments Thursday using a new online portal, state health officials said.

Pre-registration opened up on Wednesday, allowing individuals to fill out a questionnaire to place them into their respective vaccination phase.

Keith Reed, the Oklahoma State Department of Health's deputy commissioner, said the pre-registration process will guide residents through a screening process to find out what priority group they're in. Each priority group will be notified of their eligibility to get an appointment.

“[Individuals] will go in, they'll start with their demographics, they will enter their screening information and once they do that, they will be notified that they are registered,” Reed said.

Starting Thursday, individuals who are 65 or older will begin to receive notifications that they are eligible to schedule an appointment, Reed said.

“As far as when the appointments are available, that will depend on sites as they have set up their pods,” Reed said.

In addition to the portal, Reed acknowledged that many residents may not have access to the technology necessary to access the portal, which is why the department has also set up other ways of scheduling appointments.

“Let's keep in mind that we're building a system for the masses,” Reed said. ”We're trying to find efficiencies in what we do and something that appeals to the vast majority of people. We understand that it does not work for everybody, and not everybody has access to that technology.”

In order to better cater to the needs of others, the health department is enhancing its 211 phone hotline staffing to help people navigate the portal, Reed said.

Oklahomans can also call 211 to find COVID-19 testing sites and receive vaccine information.

“If [residents] are unable to do it because maybe they don't have an email address or something like that, [the Health Department] will work with them to catch their information and then our staff will work directly with county health departments in their area to find appointments for them and get them set up,” Reed said.

Although the portal is set up to hold and withstand immense amounts of traffic, Reed encouraged those in the later vaccination phases to hold off on registering.

“Anybody in Oklahoma can go in and register for this right now, but I really wouldn't want 4 million people to try to register today and stress the system that much,” Reed said.

For more information, visit vaccinate.oklahoma.gov

Reese Gorman covers COVID-19, local politics and elections for The Transcript; reach him at rgorman@normantranscript.com or @reeseg_3.

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Staff Writer

Reese Gorman covers a wide array of issues for The Norman Transcript, with a primary focus on elections and coverage of local politicians. He started as an intern in May of 2020 and transitioned into his current position as a reporter in August of 2020.

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