SHOTS AGAINST COVID: With Cherokee Nation vaccinations well underway, other locals are now beginning to be inoculated

Keri Thornton | Daily Press

Cherokee County Sheriff’s Investigator Harold Thomas walked back to his office after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at the courthouse.

Cherokee County officials and employees were lined up at the courthouse Wednesday morning to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

District 3 County Commissioner Clif Hall said the local health department had contacted them, and they were supposed to get the shot two weeks earlier.

“The health department notified us about a month ago that the courthouse was put into Tier 1. This wasn’t something we asked for and it was put in by the state,” said Hall. “There were 70, and there are 56 who were going to take it here, and we’re going to backfill employees away from here to finish 70.”

Officials and employees lined up to get the vaccine on the second floor of the courthouse. Hall said he received the first round of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. He will get his second round in 28 days.

“I was the first one to get the shot and I feel great, no problems,” said Hall. “We did have to wait 15 minutes before we could leave this morning.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Moderna vaccine is 94.1 percent effective at preventing the virus in people who received the two doses.

“The vaccine appeared to have high effectiveness in clinical trials among people of diverse age, sex, race, and ethnicity categories, and among persons with underlying medical conditions,” the CDC stated.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced the launching of an online COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduler Portal to notify residents when they’re eligible to receive the vaccine, and how to schedule an appointment.

“The online portal will serve as a point of registration for Oklahoma residents who choose to receive the vaccine to determine their eligibility within each priority group and provide information, which must include a valid email address, for updates and notifications,” the OSDH announcement said.

The ability to schedule appointments is available today, at http://vaccinate.oklahoma.gov.

“Remember, only Phase 1 and some Phase 2 priority groups including Oklahomans who are 65 years of age or older, as well as health care workers and first responders will be able to schedule appointments in they system at this point,” said the OSDH.

Those who are not in the first two phases will be contacted when they are eligible.

The OSDH is looking into additional options for those who don’t have access to the internet or a computer. Officials recommend asking a friend or family member for assistance, or calling 211 COVID hotline, or calling the local health department at 918-456-8826.

“If you pre-register today, regardless of priority group, you will receive an automated message saying you are not eligible for appointment,” said OSDH. “This is to be expected for [Jan. 6]. You will be notified of appointment eligibility beginning Jan. 7, when the initial set of appointments are populated and available.”

Salena Gordon works for the Cherokee County Clerk's Office and experienced COVID-19 firsthand. However, she opted out of getting the vaccine Wednesday morning.

“I believe the virus is real and I recovered from it three weeks ago,” said Gordon. “I realize people get very sick and have died, and I pray for them, but the vaccine was developed too fast for me to feel comfortable with it at this time. My husband and I have decided to wait for our family to receive it.”

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