Vaccine Distribution and Administration Update:

    Terri Farneti

    Public Health Coordinator

    Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS Director, has disclosed that the state is projected to receive more than 380,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of December, with the first batch of about 60,000 doses expected to arrive the week of December 13.   

    The initial doses are slated for top priority group, Priority 1A, which includes about 400,000 eligible Arizonans, to include professional healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff.  “Our expectation is that vaccine will be provided within 48 hours of it being received,” Christ said in an information session Friday morning.

    The state is working closely with county health departments to ensure an effective rollout.  “The county health department are actually the backbone of this vaccine plan,” Christ said. “They’re really going to be the intelligence and the boots on the ground for determining where the vaccine goes in their local community.”  Arizona will be told each week how many doses to expect, and it will allot those by county, based on the percentage of county residents in a priority group. The counties will then tell the state how many doses to send, and where, and the state will relay that information to the CDC distributor. 

    More than 1,000 provider locations in the state have started the onboarding process for vaccine distribution and about 350 locations have been approved.  Most sites will receive vaccine shipments directly. 

    Teachers and school staff lead the Priority 1B group, which also includes essential workers such as law enforcement, utility, grocery, transportation, and food service employees.  It is expected that the secondary group will have access to the vaccine by early January. Phase 1C is defined as people at high risk of contracting a severe case of Covid-19, including those 65 and older and adults in congregate settings, such as prisons. The general population is Phase 2. 

    The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the two that will be initially available.  Both vaccines require two doses that need to be administered either 21 or 28 days apart to ensure full vaccination.  Dr. Christ expects hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine to be available to the general public by March or April, at which time mass vaccination sites like the drive-through testing sites will help get the vaccine administered.  “It’s probably going to be like the summer or early fall before everybody who wants has had an opportunity to go get it and go get both doses,” she said. 

    Gov. Doug Ducey this week signed an executive order requiring insurance companies to cover the entire cost of Covid-19 vaccinations for all Arizonans. “The vaccine should be free for anyone who needs it,” Ducey said Wednesday. “This is a global pandemic and the vaccine shouldn’t cost Arizonans a penny.” 

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