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Arizona's underserved communities get first doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 3:04 PM, Dec 22, 2020

From Flagstaff Medical Center to Verde Valley, Northern Arizona's frontline healthcare workers got their first doses of the Moderna vaccine Tuesday during a virtual rollout event.

Arizona's largest county received a delivery of more than 18,000 doses intended for long term care facilities. Rural counties also got their initial shipments of a coronavirus vaccine as well.

“So excited," said one ICU nurse at FMC. "I feel like this is the first step for us as far as protecting ourselves and protecting others.”

“I’m absolutely thrilled to get this done, to feel like we have something actually effective to start turning this thing around and you can see some light at the end of the tunnel,” said a doctor from Verde Valley Medical Center.

Coconino and Yavapai Counties received their initial shipments Monday. Both are expected to have thousands of doses on hand by the end of the year. In fact, in weeks, every county in the state will have at least some vaccine.

“Our plan is to immunize as much of our medical staff that is willing to receive the Moderna vaccine,” said John Mougin, Chief Quality Officer for Northern Arizona Healthcare.

Rural areas watched closely as more populated cities, like Phoenix, received the shots last week.

Walgreens Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Ban weighed in on how they’ll play a major role in providing access to underserved communities.

“We intend to have mobile clinics, we’re going to have off-site clinics in community centers and churches,” said Dr. Ban.

Mohave County Officials and hospital leaders are eager to get started as well. Fifty-seven hundred doses of the Moderna vaccine are heading their way now.

“We’re ready to start this afternoon if we receive the doses,” said Mike Patterson, CEO Havasu Regional Medical Center.

Fifteen health centers are prepared to offer vaccinations. But will folks who live there will be able to get it once they're available.

“Working together with public health, working together with other CEO’s on that education component is going to be an important aspect for our community, so that that fear starts to come down,” said Will McConnell CEO of Kingman Regional Medical Center.