PHOENIX — Another 750,000 Arizonans will become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine next week, state health leaders said Wednesday.
Beginning on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 9 a.m., Arizonans 65 years and older will be allowed to make an appointment to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Previously, eligibility was open to those 75 and older, as well as frontline workers, law enforcement, teachers, and health care workers.
#UPDATE: Arizonans 65 & older will be able to register for #COVID19 vaccine starting at 9 a.m. on Jan. 19 in counties that are currently in prioritized Phase 1B. An estimated 750,000 more Arizonans are being prioritized thanks to updated guidance. Details: https://t.co/z0o9tiB4dE pic.twitter.com/fJUUok0Nu7— AZ Dept of Health (@AZDHS) January 14, 2021
Earlier Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that states open vaccine distribution to those 65 and older.
This week, State Farm Stadium in Glendale was transformed into a 24/7 vaccination site. It also remains open as a COVID-19 testing site. Appointments can be booked online here, or by calling the COVID-19 hotline (1-844-542-8201) or Arizona 211.
For Frank Luisi, 78, a former stock exchange trader who worked in New York City, and was there on Sept. 11, 2001, receiving the vaccine is critical.
“I would like to get it as soon as possible,” he said, adding that he has lingering health issues from the 9/11 attacks.
“There were a lot of particles in the air and got into my lungs, I have COPD, emphysema,” he said.
Like other people who tried to make an appointment on Monday of this week, it hasn't been an easy process. He struggled to make an appointment online and waited nearly an hour on hold after calling a hotline to reach someone who would be able to help him with scheduling.
The good news though, with Wednesday's update lowering the age of eligibility, Frank should be allowed to make an appointment for as early as next week.
On Monday, the CDC and health officials with Operation Warp Speed urged states to begin vaccinating those 65 and older immediately.
“In some states, heavy-handed micromanagement of this process has stood in the way of vaccines reaching a broader swath of the vulnerable population more quickly,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar II.
For added incentives, states will now compete against each other for a larger supply of the vaccine.
“We will be allocating them based on the pace of administration as reported by states,” said Azar II.
Then there’s this task: distributing 100 million doses to Americans in 30 days.
Officials with the National Association of Chain Drug stores said the federal government has activated the federal pharmacy partnership program to provide vaccines to retail pharmacies for phase 1B and beyond. The program will leverage more than 40,000 pharmacies across the nation to distribute and inject 100 million vaccines in a month's time.
Those 40,000 locations would need to do 83 vaccinations a day over a 12-hour period, averaging about 7 vaccinations an hour.