Oklahomans turning to text message service to find COVID-19 appointments as millions become eligible

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As millions of Oklahomans become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, many have already registered online for an appointment.

When state leaders announced that Oklahoma was moving into Phase 3 of vaccine distribution, they said 2.5 million Oklahomans were now eligible to make an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“This means that we are bringing on the vast majority of Oklahoma,” Deputy Commissioner Keith Reed said. “We said all along this is an overlapping process, and we don’t wait to complete one group before the start the next.” 

COVID-19 vaccine phases

Phase 3 includes those in educational settings outside of PreK-12th grade including childcare facilities, early childhood facilities, colleges, universities, and other post-secondary institutions.

Phase 3 also includes workers at all essential businesses.

Phase 3 vaccine graphic

“Now is the time to get vaccinated,” Reed said. “Now is the time to do your part to help stem the pandemic.”

So far, the state reports that 638,966 Oklahomans from Phase 1 and Phase 2 have received their first dose of the vaccine, while 368,851 have completed both doses.

“We want everyone vaccinated by the summer,” Oklahoma Health Commissioner Lance Frye said. 

Officials warned that Phase 3 is the state’s largest group, so it could be months before everyone is vaccinated.

(Nexstar DC photo)

In the meantime, it can be a frustrating process to try and find an appointment on the state’s vaccine portal.

However, private developers say they are making it a little easier for Oklahomans to know when appointments are available.

Recently, private developers have created an alert system that sends texts and emails to recipients when new vaccine appointments are listed on the portal.

Officials stress that this is not connected to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, but many Oklahomans have already found success using the text alerts.

Vaccine

Organizers say that once you receive a text alert, you still have to go online to the portal quickly to book an appointment.

To find out more about the text alerts or to sign up, visit the Vaccine Alerts website.

The service is free for customers, but the developers created a GoFundMe to page to help recoup some of the costs associated with sending thousands of text messages a day.

In addition to the text alerts, eligible Oklahomans are encouraged to continue checking the Oklahoma City-County Health Department’s vaccine scheduler.

Eligible customers can schedule a vaccine appointment via the Walmart and Sam’s Club websites once appointments are available.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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