PHOENIX — Adults aged 65 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Maricopa County beginning Monday, February 15.
County health officials announced on Feb. 11 that they are expanding the eligibility as nearly 50% of people 75 and older have now received at least one vaccine dose.
On Monday, all vaccine locations in Maricopa County will begin administering doses to those 65 and older.
The decision is in alignment with the federal pharmacy vaccine program that began last week.
“The data shows that our decision to provide older adults a little extra time to access vaccine has proven successful and the timing is now right to invite our residents 65 and older to step up and get vaccinated,” said Marcy Flanagan, director of Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
The Maricopa County Department of Public Health estimates there are nearly 400,000 adults in the age group 65-74 who will be eligible for the vaccine in Maricopa County.
Still, former state health director Will Humble doesn’t expect the change to have much of an impact when it comes to speeding up the vaccination process.
“The fact of the matter is [Maricopa County] is getting so very little vaccine allocated to them by the state health department anyway that, in a sense, it’s kind of cosmetic,” he told ABC15.
The state operates several “mass distribution” vaccine sites — like the 24/7 location at State Farm Stadium in Glendale — and allocates vaccines to individual counties for their efforts.
“The way the vaccine is being doled out by the state health department, the counties are really at a huge disadvantage,” Humble said. “Only after State Farm Stadium is satisfied, and [Dr. Cara Christ] is satisfied that they have all they could ever want or need do the counties even get considered on their allocations.”
According to the latest data available by Maricopa County health officials, almost 430,000, or 12%, of residents have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
More than 120,000 Maricopa County residents, about one in four people who have received at least one dose, have been fully vaccinated with two doses.
MCDPH is making vaccine appointments when and where they are convenient for people.
Efforts include: setting up five regional drive-through sites across the county, then adding a sixth, and more centrally-located sites close to public transit with a walk-through option for those who do not have their own vehicles.