State Health Department Asks For Patience With COVID Vaccine Portal

Jan 8, 2021

Credit Mike Simons / Tulsa World pool photo

More than a quarter million Oklahomans have registered through the COVID vaccine portal since Wednesday, according to the state health department.

At the end of Friday, the health department said the total number of people registered was 271,133.

The health department said any known issues — like people being unable to schedule appointments in Tulsa County or being told they're not eligible when they are — have been resolved. But there is frustration among Oklahomans.

Appointments are going quickly, and email notifications are lagging up to a few days behind registration, with more than 95,000 having gone out. Emails are going out in batches to keep the system from crashing.

Deputy State Health Commissioner Keith Reed said Oklahoma planned for an orderly vaccine rollout, and that's what's happening.

"We have avoided, quite frankly, the Florida scenario where we’ve had people sitting in lines for hours and hours and hours in poor conditions. That’s something we wanted to avoid. We wanted to take care of Oklahomans and do the best we could to manage their expectations and commit to them what we could do for them but not put them in a situation where they put themselves at risk," Reed said. "So, I just ask people to be patient with us as we work through this and understand the scenario."

Appointments will be added to the online portal each week after the state learns how many doses of vaccine it will get the following week. People who have registered will get an email when they can schedule an appointment.

Once someone receives an email confirming they're eligible to schedule an appointment, it’s up to them to check and schedule it as they become available. The portal will not schedule appointments for people.

"I’m not sure how that would even work, because what I think — as the state health department — what I think’s a good time for you to get vaccinated is probably not going to match up with your schedule or your location, right?" Reed said.

Right now, eligible groups include Oklahomans 65 or older, health care workers, and first responders.