GLENDALE, AZ — During a virtual tour with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the State Farm Stadium vaccination site Monday, health officials touted that vaccines are being provided to some "plus ones" accompanying those with vaccine appointments to help increase vaccination efforts.
"One of the things that we've found really helps us keep up with our vaccine supply is to offer plus ones. That is a clinical decision that is offered to somebody else who may have accompanied the individual in the car. Whether it's a caretaker, a family member, we're trying to get as many vaccines into the arms of Arizonans, so we want to make sure that all of those around some of our vulnerable residents are protected," Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said.
Watch the virtual tour in the player below.
The department issued an additional statement following Monday's event, saying that the decision for a "plus one" is based on supply available at the time.
"Vaccination is guaranteed only for those with appointments," said ADHS spokesman Steve Elliott. "No one should go to the site expecting vaccination unless they have an appointment. A plus-one is a clinical decision based on vaccine availability at the time."
That second person might get vaccinated but, it is not a guarantee. There are several things taken into account, including vaccination supply that day, no-shows, cancellations and who is needing the vaccine.
Something that wasn’t stressed, is that a vaccination being given to a “plus one” is a rarity.
Many people pointed that out on Monday and shared their experience.
"Thought it was misleading just because it didn't... it wasn't true. It wasn't a ‘plus one;’ it wasn't for caregivers or persons in the car with them,” says Kim Carreon, denied “plus one” vaccination.
Kim Carreon took her 80-year-old mother, who suffers from lung disease, at the end of January. Carreon asked if she could get vaccinated as well since she is a caregiver but, she said she was denied.
"It wasn't like 'hey, let me check and see', or ‘oh, they already told us you know everyone showed up to their appointments.’ Nothing. It was a straight out, ‘no,’” says Carreon.
Vice President Harris asked Dr. Christ what efforts were being done to help vaccinate underserved communities that have been hard-hit by COVID-19 since the pandemic started.
"This is just one portion of our state vaccination plan. So we are looking to partner with community leaders to put community-based pods in some of those hard to reach and targeted zip codes. We have contracted with communication groups that specialize in reaching our Hispanic, Latino or our hard-to-reach populations to do intense communication about the importance of vaccine," Dr. Christ said.
"We're also working with our state's Medicaid program to ensure that we got non-medical transport available that they can use if they want to come out here to one of these sites or any other sites," Dr. Cara Christ added.
Dr. Cara Christ also said that those who are currently struggling to schedule their second COVID-19 vaccine appointments will be received at State Farm Stadium as a walk-in.
Big news! Dr. Cara Christ told the President over a virtual tour of State Farm Stadium that those who are currently struggling to schedule their second COVID-19 vaccine appointment at the state run site, will be able to get it there as walk-in. @abc15— Cameron Polom ABC (@cpolom) February 8, 2021
In a statement Monday, President Biden and Vice President Harris acknowledged Arizona as one of the first states to reach out to the federal government to partner around vaccination sites.
According to the state, almost 300 federal personnel have been deployed to the state, including approximately 100 FEMA staff providing administrative support to vaccination operations in Yavapai, Maricopa, Mohave, Coconino, and Pima counties statement. Last weekend, HHS deployed over 100 individuals to support vaccination operations, which are expected to increase the pace of vaccinations statewide.
ABC15 has reached out ADHS to clarify whether "plus one" individuals are required to be in previously approved vaccination groups- healthcare workers, long-term care residents, protective services educators, child care workers and individuals over the age of 65.