TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — 65-year-olds will be able to get COVID vaccinations at a University of Arizona site that will soon transfer operations to the Arizona Department of Health Resources.
Up to now, the UArizona site has mostly served education workers. Other Pima County vaccination sites have limited vaccinations to medical workers, first responders, and people older than 75. The county is lowering the age threshold to 70 soon.
But in a briefing Wednesday morning, State Health Director Doctor Cara Christ said the UArizona site will abide by the state threshold which has allowed people aged 65 and older to get COVID shots at state run sites in Maricopa County. In some cases Pima County residents in the 65 plus group have traveled to Maricopa County for COVID vaccinations.
Doctor Christ says, “So, as we bring on additional vaccine sites. There are a couple of requirements that we require, we require them to follow this state. priority recommendations, as well as he sure is our vaccine management system so that we can track the vaccine and the amount that's being used on a daily basis.”
Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services announced the plan Wednesday,
“Our state vaccination sites at State Farm Stadium and Phoenix Municipal Stadium have been instrumental in Arizona’s work to vaccinate people quickly, efficiently and safely,” Ducey said in a statment. “We’re thrilled to partner with the University of Arizona and the Pima County Health Department to open a site in Southern Arizona and rapidly expand vaccine distribution. The demand for vaccine doses is high, and Arizonans have made it clear they want it. We are working hard to secure more doses from the federal government and partner with private and public organizations to get the vaccine out and protect Arizonans. My thanks to President Bobby Robbins and everyone involved for their work to partner on this vaccination site.”
The mall currently serves as a site to vaccinate students, faculty and staff. It will transition to a state site and take on more appointments Feb. 18, eventually operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Registration for the appointments will start at 9 a.m. Feb. 16 at this site or call 1-844-542-8201 for assistance.
Vaccinations under state reservations should begin February 18. Reservations made for the UArizona site made under Pima County's reservation system should still be honored.
The site will be able to vaccinate 6,000 people per day.
“Serving as a COVID-19 vaccine point of distribution (POD) and delivering more than 12,000 shots to local county members from first responders, K-12 and post K-12 educators and staff over the past two weeks has been a privilege for the University of Arizona, and we welcome the opportunity to provide the same service to Southern Arizona as a 24/7 vaccination site for the state,” said University of Arizona President Doctor Bobby Robbins, in a statement. “Our POD has the capacity to deliver more vaccinations, and we look forward to working together to further meet the needs of Pima County and Arizonans. I am incredibly proud of our entire team of professionals and volunteers who have partnered closely with Pima County, established the university POD, and operated it so well.”
Pima County has long predicted opening to the 65 age group would lead to a huge surge of people clamoring for vaccinations.
In a news briefing University of Arizona President Robbins said high traffic events like the Tucson Festival of Books have proven the University’s ability to handle big crowds and thick traffic.
“One of my big concerns that you're pointing out is having big traffic jam on Campbell and that, and it goes all the way back up to Speedway and Campbell we've got a mess so I'm confident we'll be able to work through traffic and traffic flow issues and do it safely and efficiently.
Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said the UArizona site will be an important tool to contend with the pandemic.
“Demand for the vaccine remains high, and the state’s third vaccination site and first in Southern Arizona will help meet that demand,” said Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ. “We’ll have the ability to vaccinate more people each day at this site once we have more vaccine doses, and we are working with our federal partners to secure more supplies and rapidly expand vaccinations. We are looking forward to working with the University of Arizona and Pima County to get this site running and protect more Arizonans.”
The state also operates vaccination sites at State Farm Stadium and Phoenix Municipla Stadium.