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Arizona sees drop in COVID-19 vaccine volunteers as state opens vaccine eligibility

Posted at 4:46 PM, Mar 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-28 19:46:26-04

It’s been a good news/bad news week on Arizona’s COVID-19 vaccine front. The good news is that the state announced everyone 16 and above can now get the COVID-19 vaccine in Arizona.

The bad news is that with everyone eligible, there’s been a huge drop in volunteers who help with manpower at the mega vaccine sites.

At any vaccine site, hundreds if not thousands of volunteers handle the many tasks in what has become the miracle of mass inoculation. It’s fulfilling work and one of the biggest perks is that you can get your vaccine as a gift for your time.

“When someone comes out to volunteer they do receive the vaccine at the end of that’s why these volunteer slots have been so highly sought after,” said Rhonda Oliver, director at Hands on Greater Phoenix.

Hands on Greater Phoenix is the state's biggest vaccine volunteer organization and since March, it has coordinated volunteers at State Farm Stadium, Phoenix Municipal Stadium, and now the Yuma site to name a few.

Rhonda Oliver says, “This week when the state announced that everyone 16 and above can get the vaccine it caused a huge drop off in volunteer interest coming out to these sites.”

Huge in this case means off-a-cliff huge. Oliver says even those who had volunteered for days ahead suddenly backing out since they can get the vaccine without donating their time.

Rhonda Oliver says, “Prior to this week if we would post two to three-thousand volunteer spots they would be gone within the hours, this afternoon…now we have between six to seven-thousand volunteer slots sitting on our site waiting to be filled, we’ve had some for days this week and they are still not been filled."

At the Glendale Community College site that just opened this week, volunteers are in desperate need.

Victoria Malley spokesperson for SIPMD, the company that is managing the Glendale Community College site says, “We need people to come out and help, and we don’t just need retired nurses or medical professionals, we need people who are just willing to help us coordinate.”

Dr. Cara Christ at her Friday news conference acknowledged this issue and said paid staff is available if volunteers can’t be found.

Dr. Cara Christ says, “ We are ready to fully staff it with paid staff. We have people who are managing with logistics that can activate and bring paid staff.”

Each mega-site needs roughly 1,000 volunteers per day in order to sustain the vaccine demand. Oliver says paid assistance can be avoided if Arizonans step up now to serve the community even if they can get the vaccine elsewhere.

Rhonda Oliver says, “We would really love for Arizonans to rise to the occasion and come out and staff these sites so that money doesn’t have to be spent it’s not a bottomless budget”

To sign up to volunteer, click here: