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  • Pima County, Tucson Medical Center and Banner Health announce plans for initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution

    Dec 14, 2020 | Read More News
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    Pima County and area hospital partners will prioritize front-line health care workers treating COVID-19 patients, and residents and staff of long-term care facilities in initial distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Pima County is expecting more than 50,000 doses in the first distribution of the Pfizer vaccine, including about 11,000 doses this week, followed by 17,000 about a week later.

    Health worker giving shotThe first vaccinations are scheduled for Dec. 17.

    This initial Phase 1A distribution, announced at a joint press conference of officials from the Pima County Health Department, Tucson Medical Center and Banner – University Medicine, follows recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    The CDC says on its website:

    “Healthcare personnel are defined as paid and unpaid people serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials. Long-term care facility residents are defined as adults who reside in facilities that provide a variety of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently.”

    Banner and TMC will serve as initial vaccinators and will be distributing vaccines to health care workers across all Pima County providers who meet the criteria. Other hospitals and health care partners are expected to receive the Moderna vaccine before the end of the month for distribution to their employees.

    Health care workers are advised to look for communication from their employer about which priority groups they fall under and when they can begin scheduling their vaccine appointments.

    Vaccinations are voluntary but are encouraged by health officials in order to protect those on the front line from becoming sick while helping us control the pandemic and ensure the community has continued access to necessary health care services.

    The initial Phase 1A rollout will include two distribution sites – one each at TMC and Banner. According to Crystal Rambaud, the Pima County Health Department Manager for Vaccine Preventable Diseases, a partnership between Walgreens, CVS and long-term care facilities in the County will allow staff and residents to receive direct vaccination.

    For the 1C group and later, there will be much broader distribution, most notably at doctor’s offices and clinics.

    A chart for the overview of the vaccine prioritization, including the general population in Phase 2, can be found here.

    The timeline for the rollout of vaccinations to the priority groups is in flux, with the amount of vaccine made available to the County one of several variables. Dr. Theresa Cullen, the Pima County Health Director, said the period of vaccination for all of the priority groups identified in Phase 1 (A, B and C) could take at least five months.

    “The caveat to all this is availability of vaccines, as well as what vaccines have been reviewed and endorsed by the FDA and CDC,” Cullen said. “It is possible this timeline could accelerate.”

    The vaccine is the newest tool in the toolbox to slow the spread of COVID-19. Cullen says the other mitigation tools in the toolbox – wear a face mask, wash your hands, stay at least 6 feet apart, stay at home when you can – remain essential.

    “We need every resident of the County to continue to adhere to the recommendations,” Cullen said. “We are in an accelerated transmission phase. Despite the fact that the vaccine will be here this week, the impact of the vaccine will take months to achieve in terms of a community-based response.

    “Obviously the individuals who receive the vaccine will get protection after the second shot. In the meantime, we encourage and really plead with the community to stay committed to the activities we know will help mitigate the transmission we are currently seeing.”

    For more and updated information about vaccine distribution/safety and FAQs, visit www.pima.gov/covid19vaccine

    To watch Monday’s press conference, use this link from the Pima County Facebook page.