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Pima County vaccinations to stay at 65-plus

Supply and vulnerability concerns
Posted at 7:03 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 21:03:25-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Looking back on a year since COVID came to Pima County, the County’s Health Director had an emotional moment. Doctor Teresa Cullen sees pain---but progress as we all struggle with the virus.

She says, “You know a lot of people have died. There's been a lot of suffering. There's been disruption to businesses to schools to families, people haven't been there to comfort their loved ones. It's a really difficult year. There's times when I I walk in, I'm sure this is true for all of you when I just have spontaneous tears over that suffering.”

But reflecting on the year since COVID hit, Pima County Health Director Doctor Teresa Cullen says she’s encouraged about how people and government have responded, though there are still high hurdles ahead.

She says even though state vaccination sites now offer shots to people aged 55 and older, PIma County and the state site and the University of Arizona will stay with 65 and up because vaccines are still tight and that age group is at higher risk.

She says they are considering opening to younger people at extra risk from other medical conditions.

“We have had that discussion with our ethics committee, about whether there should be some exemption process, which would enable us to take an individual and make a decision about where they can be in the que. We have had multiple discussions about this. We are in the process of trying to formulate a process that would enable us to do that.”

The county’s allotment of the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine is increasing. Pima County now expects eight thousand doses. They will go to outlying clinics and mobile vans to help reach less served populations and shut-ins who can’t get to a shot clinic.

As for Governor Ducey’s call to re-open schools Doctor Cullen says the health department is comfortable with the decision that schools can re-open but simply advises school districts and leaves the decision to them.