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Health officials tell Mesa to redirect COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 4:51 AM, Feb 03, 2021

MESA, AZ — Mesa fire officials, who are assisting COVID-19 vaccination efforts, said changing priorities led them to schedule and then cancel hundreds of shot appointments.

Deputy Fire Chief Michelle Denton said state health officials asked the City of Mesa to immunize hundreds of police officers and thousands of school employees last month.

“They said if...you have any left over, you can trickle those over to the City of Mesa essential workers, so we did,” Denton said.

Just days later, according to Denton, Maricopa County health officials explained Mesa could not vaccinate the city workers if they were not in category 1A or a priority 1B group. These groups include health care workers, adults over 75, school employees, and public safety workers. It does not include other essential workers beyond that group.

Denton said her team made the adjustment to reserve the limited supply for the highest priority groups. About 300 appointments for city workers were canceled.

“We are 100% transparent,” Denton said. “When it changes or gets a narrowing of who we're allowed to vaccinate, then we changed to whatever we’re directed to.“

As of this week, Mesa Fire and Medical Department started receiving vaccines earmarked for people 75 years or older. While all available appointments have been booked for this week, Mesa officials hope to open more appointment times for senior citizens next week.