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Pinal County health leaders hoping to open regional COVID-19 vaccination site

Posted at 9:28 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 23:28:33-05

PINAL COUNTY, AZ — Pinal County health leaders hope to open a new regional site to speed up coronavirus vaccinations to the eastern part of the state. The move comes as residents there continue to wait on appointments and watch as larger counties like Maricopa, as well as state-run sites, have now delivered thousands of doses.

“I’m a truck driver, I deliver to Walmart, Costco’s, Albertsons. I deliver food,” said Myrna Brown-Forte.

Myrna is a 67-year-old essential worker, mother and grandmother. The Pinal County resident reached out to KGUN9's sister station, ABC15 Health Insider team for answers after struggling to get a vaccine appointment.

“It’s just been very frustrating, I’ve been trying since the vaccine became available,” said Myrna.

Despite hours spent online and over the phone, she’s come up empty-handed. She makes every effort to protect herself for the time being, but sometimes unsafe situations are unavoidable.

“I was up in Oregon and I went inside this shipper and not one person had on a mask,” said Myrna.

Pinal County health leaders hear her concerns. They tell ABC15 they’re currently in communication with the state, with hopes of convincing them to open a state-run site in her county that will serve as a regional vaccination location.

“This really could be a regional site for the eastern part of the state,” said Pinal County Health Director Dr. Tascha Spears.

Dr. Spears says the allocation of the vaccine to Pinal County has been inconsistent, with the weekly supply as high as 13,000 doses and as low as 3,000. So far, Pinal County has administered just under 30,000 doses.

“To see it go up and down like that is probably how the community feels being on a roller coaster thinking there will be a lot of vaccine and then there’s this downturn where we get very little vaccine,” said Dr. Spears.

It’s something many of our smaller counties have experienced.

On Monday, Dr. Spears and her team toured the newest state-run site at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. She was encouraged by the operation and certain it can work in their community.

Especially if positioned along with one of the many major thoroughfares running through the area. Both the I-10 and US 60 run through the county.

“That would offer access to several counties really, Gila County, Graham County, even up through Navajo and Apache County,” said Dr. Spears.

It’s a plan that will certainly hinge on vaccine supply. The federal government is boosting state supply by 22% beginning over the next few weeks will help.

As for Myrna, getting the vaccine brings with it safety as well as a joy all of us can appreciate.

“I have to get this vaccine, I have a little great-granddaughter that I have not met yet that I want to go see. I’m definitely going to keep trying to get this vaccine,” said Myrna.