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  • Pima County to expand COVID-19 vaccination sites

    Jan 07, 2021 | Read More News
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    The rate of COVID-19 vaccines is ready to rise in Pima County.

    The County, according to data tracked daily by the Arizona Department of Health Services, already has been leading the state in vaccination rate.  But, says Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen, with the accelerated rate of transmission of COVID-19, “It’s critical that we accelerate our immunization process.”

    As the vaccine makes its way from the federal to state and county levels, Pima County is distributing its allocation to our health care partners, who are in the midst of vaccinating the Phase 1A group. Vaccine vialsThat group includes health care workers, those in emergency medical services, and residents and staff of long-term care facilities. 

    Those efforts to deliver shots to 1A will continue, but the County, after studying the vaccination process through the initial stages after a Dec. 17 start, is ready to rev forward.

    What’s new?

    Pima County announced this week that it will begin to vaccinate the large population of the Phase 1B group by Jan. 15. 

    To make this happen, the County is in the process of establishing four more regional collaborative vaccine centers, in addition to those at Tucson Medical Center and Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, which have been serving health care workers since Dec. 17.

    One of the new sites will be a drive-thru model at Kino Stadium, which is targeted to be open by Jan. 15. That County-supported center will be operated by Banner.

    County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said vaccine centers at the University of Arizona and at the Tucson Convention Center are likely to be operation between Jan. 15 and Jan. 19.

    Plans are in the works for another center at Rillito Regional Park.

    Who is eligible in 1B?

    Phase 1B prioritizes three groups:
    • People age 75 and older, due to the high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID‐19
    • Teachers and Caregivers: Education and childcare providers (K-12, and higher education teachers and staff, student teachers)
    • Prioritized Essential Workers: Protective service occupations (law enforcement, corrections officers, firefighters, and other emergency response staff, 911 call center staff and trainees in high-risk settings).
    Two other groups – the 1B.2 phase – will follow: Essential workers, and adults with high-risk medical conditions living in shelters or other congregate settings.

    You can find a detailed list of professions in the “essential worker” category at Pima County’s updated 1B plan as of Jan. 7.

    The County estimates there are 275,000 to 325,000 people in 1B eligible for vaccinations and is targeting the end of March to get through this phase.

    How do I sign up?

    Qualified individuals in the 1A group have been registering and making appointments through their employers. 

    The registration system for the priority 1B group had not been finalized as of Jan. 7.

    On-line and call-in options will be available to register. Some of the priority 1B groups might be vaccinated at a work-site clinic, at one of the vaccination centers, or at their participating doctor’s office. 

    “Our goal is to make sure we have multiple entry points for folks who fit into any one of those five categories in Phase 1B to walk through,” said Dr. Francisco Garcia, Pima County’s Deputy County Administrator and Chief Medical Officer.

    “Part of the strategy here is to have the greatest degree of flexibility in order to serve the largest number of people,” Garcia said. “At the end of the day, I care more about the number of people vaccinated than about making sure every single person walks in through the right door.”

    How will I know when to register?

    Get all the updates at www.pima.gov/covid19vaccine, and be sure to check the Pima County Health department social media (Facebook, Twitter) and local media outlets.