‘Happy to Help’

Yukon library helps residents seeking COVID-19 vaccine appointments

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Mabel C. Fry Public Library staff member Bridget Renkiewicz helps Dale Robertson Center patron David Sturgill navigate the Oklahoma State Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccination portal on one of the Yukon library’s five public access computers. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Hundreds of Yukon residents have received help from library staff as they navigate the state health department’s online COVID-19 vaccination portal.

All Oklahomans age 16 and above are now eligible to receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as the state has moved to phase four of its vaccination rollout.

Staff members at the Mabel C. Fry Public Library, 1200 Lakeshore, have stepped up over the past two months to assist people (especially seniors) who want to register online. The library has five public access computers.

“We can help people get registered for the portal,” Yukon Librarian Sara Schieman said.

“And if there’s a spot at a non-portal site (such as medical clinics and pharmacies), we can help them with those too.

“My staff has done it enough times they know how they can get registered. We are thrilled to help anybody – at any age. Oftentimes, the younger people are more tech-savvy so they don’t need as much help.”

In early February, Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby asked City of Yukon staff to help residents age 65 and above register for vaccine appointments through the Oklahoma State Health Department’s online vaccination portal.

That’s become many Yukon citizens – specifically older adults who aren’t tech-savvy or lack internet access – were having trouble signing up for a COVID-19 shot. The online portal was somewhat challenging for some.

As more vaccine has become available and the portal has become more streamlined, Yukon library personnel have been able to help more residents.

“At the beginning, people thought we could just get them a vaccine appointment, but it was not that easy,” Schieman said. “There are places now that have openings. So, if someone came in today, we could help get them a spot.

“Originally, you had to get signed up through the portal – and the portal communicates only through email. So, if you aren’t savvy enough to at least manage your email or have a family member who can help, you just don’t have much of a chance.”

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‘WE’RE HERE TO HELP’

To make an online vaccine appointment, visit vaccinate.oklahoma.gov.

Anyone (not just seniors) who needs help signing up can visit Yukon’s public library or call (405) 354-8232.

“This is what we do anyway – all day, every day,” Schieman said. “If anybody needs help with anything, we’re going to help them.

“We’re happy to do it.”

People without internet access also can call the Canadian County Health Department at (405) 354-4872 or dial 211 for more information.

Some 2,530,785 vaccine doses have been distributed and 1,869,610 administered in Oklahoma as of March 28, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data.

Yukon’s longtime librarian hopes more residents take advantage.

“To get a shot – it’s so liberating,” Schieman said. “It’s such a gift.”

Oklahoma’s three previous COVID-19 vaccine phases were:
• Phase one: Long-term care residents and staff, health care workers supporting direct inpatient care, public health staff conducting front-line COVID-19 pandemic mitigation, and Oklahoma state-licensed emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
• Phase two: First responders, health care workers providing direct COVID outpatient care and services, adults age 65 and older and adults of any age with comorbidities, teachers and staff in PreK-12 schools, staff and residents in congregate locations and worksites, and public health staff supporting front line efforts.
• Phase three: Teachers, staff and residents in other educational settings; and critical infrastructure personnel.

The Mabel C. Fry Public Library stands ready to help any Yukon resident now that phase four has arrived. Regular library hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

“We’ve got the computers, we’ve got high-speed internet, and we’ve got the staff that can help you – whether it’s navigating the COVID portal, finding a tax form or finding where to sign up for Medicare,” Schieman explained. “We can help people with that, any time we’re open. And we’re glad to do it.”

The Yukon library also offers free Wi-Fi access.

“People can bring their own laptop or tablet,” Schieman added. “If anybody just needs Wi-Fi, it’s available 24/7, 365. It reaches through the parking lot and into the west field now. We have outdoor access points that will push it ever further.”

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