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Vaccination plan accelerating despite a low supply

Posted at 6:38 PM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 20:38:22-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN9) — Pima County is starting to accelerate its vaccine rollout, but they are still dealing with many logistical challenges. The plan is for people 75 years of age and older to soon be able to get inoculated.

The state recently recommended counties widen the availability of vaccination to people 65 and over, but counties have the ability to prioritize based on the availability of the vaccine. A Pima County spokesperson says they have not changed their prioritization plan of 75 and older.

The accelerated immunization plan would mean about 12,000 shots a day given at six different sites. But that output would quickly diminish the supply of vaccine coming in.

“Not just in Pima County and the state of Arizona, but across the country, it is a huge problem on the supply side,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia. “It’s a problem we have limited control over so we can either wait for that problem to resolve and then develop a plan or develop a plan now.”

Dr. Garcia and Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen say they want to send the state a message Pima County is ready to distribute any vaccine sent its way.

“Hey we’re down here in Pima County, please make sure we have an adequate supply,” said Dr. Cullen. “And you cannot come to us and say we do not have distribution capacity to do it because we have the infrastructure now.”

The accelerated plan includes six high volume immunization sites.

“Banner is opening another facility near Kino and TMC opened another drive-thru lane,” said Dr. Cullen. Starting this week, Pima County will be transitioning from the 1a phase of vaccinations to 1b.

The first grouping of 1b includes people 75 years of age and older, teachers and protective service workers. The first few weeks will prioritize older adults.

“We look at our mortality rate and our hospitalization data and we have a clear demarcation with 75 and up,” said Dr. Cullen.

Dr. Garcia says online registration is not ready yet, but will soon be on the county’s website. He says you’ll need an email account and documents to prove your age to get vaccinated.

“Identity document, name, date of birth, and allows the vaccination site to confirm this IS who you are.”