Additional vaccine clinic scheduling appointments for 65+ Ardmore residents

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

Vaccine points of distribution, or PODs, are expanding in southern Oklahoma for limited segments of the population and providing alternative methods for scheduling appointments. Ardmore residents 65 or older can now schedule appointments through Mercy Hospital as statewide supplies allow. 

Mercy Hospital Ardmore on Friday announced a vaccination clinic specifically for Ardmore residents and noted the high demand and limited appointment availability. Hospital president Daryle Voss asked for continued patience as health care workers and those over 65 are vaccinated since “demand for vaccine far outweighs the supply the state currently has.”  

“We are working very closely with state leadership and other health systems to vaccinate those who are eligible under Oklahoma state guidelines,” Voss said in a statement. “It’s critical that people fill out the online form so that as soon as vaccine is available, we can get you scheduled for an appointment.” 

The form can be found online at https://www.mercy.net/ArdmoreVaccine and allows Ardmore residents to sign up for availability notifications. The scheduling system, separate from the scheduling portal used by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, acknowledges that millions are eligible for vaccinations but only a fraction of the doses are available. 

“Vaccinating all those who are eligible will take several months. Many people may wait a month or more for their vaccine,” reads the Mercy scheduling form. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health oversees federal vaccine allocations from two drug makers and has been trying to expand availability to eligible populations, which also include health care workers, first responders and long-term care facilities. Considering each drug consists of two doses given between three and four weeks apart, OSDH Deputy Commissioner Keith Reed has said that priorities may alternate with weekly shipments to ensure second doses are given in a timely manner. 

Reed said that there is flexibility with when second doses can be administered. “Please, do not panic if you cannot get your second dose exactly on day 21 or day 28,” he told reporters on Friday. 

Just over 89,000 appointments had been scheduled through the state's online portal by Friday afternoon with more expected to be added next week. More than 330,000 Oklahomans are eligible to receive the vaccine under the state’s four-phase vaccination plan, according to OSDH.

The 1,838 new COVID-19 cases recorded in Carter County this month account for almost 40% of all cases recorded since March 2020.

Oklahoma has recorded 370,149 total cases of COVID-19 after 4,157 new cases were recorded Saturday, according to the OSDH online dashboard. The number of deaths climbed to 3,231 after 91 new deaths were reported statewide on Friday and Saturday.   

Among those deaths reported Friday was that of a Carter County woman over the age of 65, according to an OSDH daily situation report. She was the 22nd Carter County resident recorded to die from COVID-19 complications and the fourth county death recorded in January. 

The true number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. OSDH reports of confirmed cases and deaths linked to COVID-19 are known to be delayed by days or even weeks. 

The seven-day average of reported COVID-19 deaths statewide continued to surge this week and reached 40 for the first time Saturday.

Active cases in Carter County continued a downward trend Saturday and fell to the lowest level in over two weeks. At least 607 cases were considered active across the county on Saturday.

Mercy Hospital Ardmore on Saturday morning was caring for 40 COVID-19 patients with eight in ICU, according to Mercy Hospital media relations Executive Director Nancy Corbett. Both numbers are down from a record 62 Ardmore hospital beds filled with COVID-19 patients on Jan. 14 and 11 ICU beds treating coronavirus patients on Jan. 16.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. 

— Follow Michael D. Smith on Twitter @mykdeen