Maricopa County prepares as first dose of COVID-19 vaccine inches closer

Posted at 3:54 PM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 20:17:54-05

PHOENIX — While a coronavirus vaccine is being advertised as “right around the corner,” initial estimates from the county show there won’t be many doses at first in Arizona, compared to the number of people that hope to get vaccinated in the first round.

While the state expects around 385,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of the month, Maricopa County is only expected to see about 40,000 doses of it when the roll-out begins.

That number is not even close to the 123,000 people that make up “Group 1A” within the county.

Group 1A is defined as “frontline healthcare workers, including Emergency Medical Services, who are at the highest risk of exposure, as well as residents of long-term care facilities,” according to the Maricopa County Health Department.

Once approved by the FDA, the vaccine will ship directly to five drive-thru sites in different quadrants of the county. That will be done in conjunction with Abrazo Health, Banner Health, Banner Del Web, Dignity Health, and Honor Health over several weeks. The vaccine will then require a second dose, which will be administered about four weeks later.

The goal is to complete vaccination on all of that first group by early 2021, after which health officials hope to expand access to the vaccine significantly.

Marcy Flanagan is with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. She says that while it will take some time, eventually the vaccine will be available for everyone.

“As more vaccine becomes available and as we move through these other phases 1B, 1C, there will be additional providers that we allocate vaccine to and then it opens up, you can imagine one day when this vaccine becomes like any other vaccine, you’ll be able to go to your primary care physician, to a pharmacy, to an urgent care,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan says while the county has not received a lot of the details on when exactly they will get the vaccines, they’re planning ahead to be as ready as possible.