The Oklahoma State Department of Health will launch an online scheduling tool for vaccination appointments Thursday morning. Some county health department officials said there may be few slots available at first, but that will change weekly.
“We’re building a system for the masses,” OSDH Deputy Commissioner Keith Reed said at a virtual news conference Monday. The federal government updates the agency weekly with the number of incoming vaccine doses.
“We've got eyes on 7 days in advance on how much vaccine we're going to have,” Reed said.
Pre-registration for the online scheduling tool began Wednesday morning. As of 5 p.m., 103,542 people pre-registered.
The site is expected to launch around 8 a.m. While anyone can register, only high priority groups will be able to make appointments. The groups currently eligible to make appointments are health care workers, long-term care facility residents and staff, first responders, and those who are 65 and older.
Once registered, the site will send an email to notify users when they are able to schedule an appointment.
Local health departments, however, may not have appointments available Thursday morning because they don’t know how many doses they will receive next week.
L’Toya Knighten, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, said Wednesday the agency expects to receive fewer vaccine doses from the state than requested.
Knighten said OCCHD may receive 6,000 doses after requesting 25,000. She said appointments will not be available on the OSDH portal until OCCHD is certain of the vaccine supply it will receive next week.
Counties surrounding Oklahoma County may not have appointments available right away, either.
Sara King, a spokesperson for county health departments in District 6 said there may be limited appointments available when the scheduling tool launches on Thursday. More time slots will become available when the departments receive notice of incoming vaccine supplies.
Along with appointments, more locations for vaccinations will be propped up as supply increases.
Reed said there are 76 points of distribution, or PODs, across the state. He corrected a statement from earlier in the week, where he said there were 90 PODs.
When incoming supply is greater, Reed said, the state will begin to use partnering health care providers to dole out more shots.
“When we get to that point, and we have a large amount of vaccine, and we implement that program, that's when the vaccination program really gains a lot of momentum. A lot of rapid progress,” Reed said.