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Pima County expanding to vaccinate 70 and older; can the vaccine supply hold up?

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Posted at 3:25 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 17:30:07-05

PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN) — Pima County announced Thursday, those 70 years and older may now register to be vaccinated. The health department explained it is still trying to figure out exactly how to allocate vaccine doses to newer groups and to those who need their second vaccination.

Public health director, Dr. Theresa Cullen says, the county’s decision to keep the age at 70, and not down to 65, isn’t consistent with the state’s model. But that decision was based on the county’s vaccine allotment.

“We were seeing some let-up in the number of people that had applied to get appointments through the system,” said Cullen.

After opening up the vaccination range to over 50,000 more people, Dr. Cullen says, eventually, the vaccination rates will have to slow down to ensure those who received the first dose gets the second.

“I do believe that we will have the ability to fully vaccinate the community. What will happen is there will be a slow down at certain points,” said Cullen.

However, she mentioned the new-one shot vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson. If that green-lights in the next few weeks, the vaccination rates won’t have to decrease for too long. But right now, the county is dealing with what they have at its disposal which are the Moderna and Pfizer two-shot vaccines.

“You got to have your second dose available. And if you only have 1,000 shots available, and there are only 1,000 spaces, you now are going to cycle through that for another month. Those same people will get fully immunized, which is really critical. But you limit your ability to bring in new people,” said Cullen.

Pima County’s test positivity rate is at 12.5% this week, and the county has more ICU bed capacity available than it's had in the last eight weeks.