The Arizona Department of Health Services detailed plans Friday to roll out doses of COVID-19 vaccine across Arizona in the coming weeks.
Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ announced the state is projecting to receive 383,750 doses of vaccine by the end of the year, with initial doses arriving around December 15. The projections are contingent on both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines gaining the necessary approval from the FDA.
The doses expected to arrive in Arizona would go towards the first dose for people receiving one of the two vaccines, as they both require a second follow-up dose several weeks later for full effectiveness.
"A vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we have a long way to go before there's enough vaccine for everybody who wants one," Dr. Christ said.
The vaccine will become available first for people in higher-risk groups and occupations. Known as group 1A, frontline healthcare workers and those at long-term care facilities will be at the front of the line. Dr. Christ said, logistics depending, people in those groups should have an opportunity to get the initial vaccine dose by early January.
Next in line would be group 1b, with teachers, school staff and childcare providers prioritized in that group, along with members of law enforcement, among others.
"We anticipate that we will probably be getting to some of those highly prioritized, our teachers, our childcare workers, our education occupations, as well as our protective services, probably around the beginning of January," Dr. Christ said.
Vaccine doses will continue to arrive in Arizona as the weeks progress, and the number of locations to receive it will continue to expand,
Thus far, 359 provider locations have been approved and are able to receive vaccines, with more than a thousand additional locations going through the process.
Dr. Christ said the vaccine may not be available for the general population until March or April.
"It's probably going to be the Summer, early Fall before everybody who wants it has had an opportunity to go get it and go get both doses," Dr. Christ said. "What we don't know is how long that immunity lasts and if it's going to be something like a flu shot where you have to go get it every so often."