The COVID-19 vaccines are more widely available in Oklahoma, but the demand is still much higher than supply. Many people are getting frustrated as they try to schedule appointments to get the vaccine.
People trying to make vaccination appointments in Tulsa County were disappointed Thursday when all appointments were filled the night before they were expected to become available. Some of the fortunate who happened to check early were able to make next day appointments.
The Tulsa Health Department vaccinated 800 people are one of their sites Thursday, with most of the appointments made by people 65 and older. Some first responders and healthcare workers were also vaccinated, though the vaccine was available to them before this week.
Tulsa’s appointments were expected to show up on the Oklahoma Vaccine Portal at 8 a.m. Thursday, but they appeared Wednesday night.
“We don't have control of when the portal opens and originally we were told to tell people to get on Thursday mornings, but it sounds like the portal opened up last night," said Dr. Bruce Dart, the Executive Director of the Tulsa Health Department.
Mike Woods of Broken Arrow was looking at the portal last night and realized slots were available.
“We really lucked into it last night, and were able to get all three of us signed up last night for today, which is very unusual, but I understand the portal filled up very fast,” said Woods.
Within a few hours, more than 2,600 appointments were booked.
The portal is controlled by the State Health Department and is the gateway for most people to register for vaccine, and then try to schedule an appointment. Many people who tried Thursday morning were disappointed by not finding appointments within 50 miles of their home, or finding the system overloaded by so many people trying at once.
Rosalyn May booked her appointment last week.
“Mine was very easy, I have friends, still trying to get appointments, but I wasn't trying to get it for anyone other than myself and I think that makes a difference too,” she said.
Whether someone can get a slot depends on luck, but whether a slot exists depends on the supply of vaccine available. Many departments post specific local information on social media, including unexpected openings to get the vaccine. Several people who were vaccinated Thursday said they found a few, scattered, open appointments by checking the portal Wednesday.
Statewide, people can call 211 with questions about the vaccine. In Tulsa, Life Senior Services is assisting people with registration when they are unable to do it for themselves.