PHOENIX — For the past two weeks in a row, the state health department has failed to allocate a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine to Maricopa County.
In fact, since mid-January, the number of those critical doses used at the county's drive-up sites has plummeted each week.
“The counties really [are] concerned that they may need to begin to cancel tens of thousands of appointments that they’ve promised to people,” said Former State Health Director Will Humble.
At the same time, vaccine allocation to the state-run sites, State Farm and Phoenix Municipal Stadiums, have skyrocketed. While the county got zero doses last week, the state kept nearly 79,000. Humble says it's putting county public health leaders in a terrible situation.
“You see this obvious effort on the part of the governor and Director Christ to only promote the state-run vaccination centers,” said Humble.
On Friday, Maricopa County Health said they have enough Pfizer on hand to honor appointments at PODs through February 12 and are not canceling appointments at this time. However, tens of thousands more are still waiting on second dose appointments. Former State Emergency Management Director Wendy Smith-Reeve says the state has thrown the playbook out the window and seemingly gone in alone.
“The state's job is to ensure the success of those county and tribal partners, and by stealing from them to take the limelight, it degrades the process,” said Smith-Reeve.
Instead, Governor Ducey took another shot at the county on Twitter last Tuesday.
In the tweet, he said the 538 doses wasted at county pod sites were unacceptable and said it has not and will not happen at state-run sites.
“To say and to make a bold statement saying that would never happen, and there’s zero wastage at State Farm that’s absolutely false,” Smith-Reeve added.
Wastage can happen for a number of unavoidable reasons. So far, Maricopa County has wasted 0.3% of its doses, far below the industry standard that puts acceptable wastage at 5%.
Rather than praise that fact, the state has yet to release its own stats.
“To disparage your county partner who's doing a great job and discarding very little vaccine at all five of their pods, is kind of unprofessional and not helpful,” said Humble.
What’s lost is both the state and county have been incredibly successful in getting shots into our communities' arms. But many more of our neighbors still remain unvaccinated, millions in fact. And it will take both the county and the state to deliver the promise of a future beyond the pandemic.
"There must be solid partnership or we are going to hit bumps in the road that could have been avoided," said Humble.