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State leaders promise to speed up delivery of COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 4:18 PM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 19:40:00-05

PHOENIX — Lines were busy at Valley vaccination sites Thursday as some medical workers scheduled to receive their COVID 19 vaccination had to register again because of a glitch in the online sign-up.

A day earlier, Arizona Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ talked about the challenges of getting people vaccinated in the state.

“This is a monumental task that public health has,” she said. “We do vaccinations all the time. But this is the vaccination of the entire population."

Arizona received nearly 315,000 doses of the COVID 19 vaccine. But, as the year ends, fewer than 20% of those prioritized to receive the first dose of the vaccine -- frontline medical workers and residents of long-term care facilities -- have received their shots.

The Governor issued an executive order Wednesday to speed things up because the demand for the vaccine is about to grow significantly.

Teachers, police, essential workers and seniors 75 and older are included in the next group scheduled to be vaccinated. Dr. Christ said as the number of eligible people increases, the state is better suited to organize and distribute the vaccine.

Arizona has contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer vaccines at assisted-living facilities. The state will work directly with companies like SRP to establish sites where large numbers of employees can be vaccinated.

The Arizona Department of Health Service's website will begin publishing information about how, when and where to get vaccinated soon.

“We will be starting with our over 75-year old’s, education and childcare providers, as well law enforcement and police. So we’ll be working to get that info out through channels that we have,” Dr. Christ said.

“We were ahead of that executive order," said P. Kore Redden, the Bio-Defense Preparedness and Response Administrator for Pinal County’s Public Health District. He said getting the vaccine out and distributed has been a success so far.

Pima County works with 14 CDC-approved partners to ensure those first in line to receive the vaccine get it, if they want it, he said.

This week, Pinal County Health Officials began dispensing the vaccine to the next group.

“If our schedule is not filling up, that was our decision to go further into the 1B group which includes the schools, critical essential workers, infrastructure and 75 and older populations,” Redden said.

Dr. Christ expects a dramatic increase in vaccinations soon, possibly as early as next week.