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Limited vaccine supply affecting rural areas in Pima County

Limited vaccine supply affecting rural areas
Posted at 10:15 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 00:15:52-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The limited vaccine supply is already affecting rural areas in Pima County.

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry says nearly 47,000 vaccines have been given in the county.

“50% of our allocation has been deployed,” said Huckelberry.

Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen says, while getting the vaccine out is the priority, the county is facing a big challenge--supply versus demand.

“There does seem to be some...I would use the word inequity in terms of vaccine distribution at the state level,” she said during the Board meeting.

She says, at this rate, Pima County will run out of vaccines in 12 to 14 days.

That’s if another shipment doesn’t come in.

“And that includes the immunization that’s coming this week,” added Dr. Cullen.

This means, folks in rural areas, will have to wait a while before they see vaccination sites come to them. Though they can still go to other Pima County sites to get the vaccine.

“We still have issues with distribution with Avra Valley, and much of District 3 is rural, and I know you’re working with Ajo, but...I think it’s going to be challenging because there isn’t much vaccine to go around,” said Supervisor Sharon Bronson.

Dr. Cullen says they are working with Premiere Medical Group to eventually extend vaccination to semi-urban and rural areas of Pima County.

“They will function as an arm and extension of our county's ability to provide vaccination in perhaps mobile pods that will be designed to meet the needs of the community...those communities....where, at the current time, we don’t have any semi-permanent pods,” said Dr. Cullen.

In order for this to happen medical professionals, like Dr. Francisco Garcia, say they need more vaccines.

“It’s one of those things where you’re between a rock and a hard place. This is very much a work in progress that is really, really dependent on the vaccine availability from the feds and from the state,” said Dr. Garcia.

“As soon as we get accelerated vaccine, we believe we will be able to move into those areas,” added Dr. Cullen.

For more information on vaccination sites, click here.