OSDH warns about COVID-19 vaccine appointment scams

VIDEO: OSDH warns about COVID-19 vaccine scam
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Health is warning people seeking help with the state’s vaccination website that scammers out there are claiming to be experts that can get you processed.
  • Deputy State Health Commissioner Keith Reed said some people are setting up paid services to try to profit off people, especially elderly people without Internet.
  • Reed said help, the website, and even the vaccine itself are all free, and no one is “certified” or has been given permission by the state to offer paid help.

TULSA, Okla. — The number of COVID-19 vaccine doses are expected to double in two weeks meaning twice the amount of vaccination appointments will also open up as the Federal government changes how it is saving up “second booster” doses to make sure people get their second dose on time.

Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service and Operation Warp Speed administrators announced it was no longer going to hold back second doses, but instead, it was going to ship out as many COVID-19 vaccine doses as they could so more people could begin building up immunity.

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“We’re going to see a level of vaccinations we haven’t seen so far,” said Oklahoma Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed.

Next week, the State of Oklahoma will be allocated 48,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the Federal government, but the week after that, that number will double to 96,000 doses as the Federal government no longer holds back vials to be specifically used for second doses.

“We are going to take and extra step to ensure a second dose is available for those people who need one,” Reed said.

It will now be up to the state to determine just how many doses it needs to set aside for second doses versus how many of the vaccine doses they have on hand are used for the initial “prime” shot that begins to build up immunity against COVID-19.

Reed said it would be a balancing act, but he was confident second doses would be available to those who need them in the coming weeks and even months. Currently, the first people to get the vaccine the state under Phase 1 are already getting their second booster dose. Those doses have been set aside in storage to make sure when those people showed up for their booster, a dose would be guaranteed to be available. But since the medicine in the first and second dose are the same, the Federal government has admitted its is very behind on its goal to get 20 million Americans vaccinated by the end of the first month vaccines were out, this is the best way to release more doses in the immediate future.

The Tulsa Health Department told FOX23 on Tuesday they were still considering holding back some doses specifically for second dose usage, and Reed said how second doses will be administered on time while some second doses are going to be used as first doses is definitely something state health officials will have to work through.

FOX23 asked Reed with more vaccines coming in would there be more appointments opening up on vaccinate.oklahoma.gov, and he said in some cases yes, but there are questions as to how much more a POD (point of distribution) can handle. It’s not clear if there will be night and weekend vaccination appointments yet, but Reed said stretching current staffing to the breaking point like 24/7 operations and distribution was not a wise move.

“Our teams are doing a great job right now,” Reed said. “But we have to take care of our resources.”

Reed said it is possible private partners will be brought on board to help with the influx of more doses, and appointments in the future will need to be scheduled through those organizations when they are brought online. Vaccinate.oklahoma.gov will only show appointments the state and county health departments are in charge of. It will not be the single go-to site for all appointments when vaccine distribution is expanded.