State gives update on Arizona’s vaccine distribution plan

Updated: Dec. 4, 2020 at 6:31 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona should be just days away from receiving the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but when can you expect to get it?

Pfizer and Moderna are both expected to provide COVID-19 vaccines to Arizona. State health leaders say 383,750 doses should be in the initial batch. They expect Pfizer to deliver first during the week of December 15th and then Moderna during the week of December 20th. However, that does not necessarily mean that’s when you will get it.

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ outlined the first phase of distribution.

Phase 1A: frontline medical workers, long-term care patients, and staff.

Phase 1B: adults with high-risk medical conditions living in shelters, education and childcare providers, those with protective services, and essential workers.

Phase 1C: adults with underlying medical conditions, those 65 and older, and adults in congregate settings.

However, with this vaccine, one dose isn’t enough and that presents an extra hurdle. They’ll need to ensure this group returns for their second shot about three weeks later.

“This vaccine has a challenge because there is a second dose and so how are we going to remind individuals about getting that dose at the appropriate time?” asked Dr. Christ.

The state’s solution: reminder cards will be distributed to patients when they get the first dose, electronic reminders, and many places will encourage people to set up their second appointment during their first visit.

Dr. Christ hopes to have Phase 1A completed by the end of the year. She hopes to start Phase 1B, like vaccinating teachers, at the beginning of January. However, she cautions there could be delays or other issues that arise.

“There’s a lot through this whole pandemic that keeps us up at night,” Dr. Christ said. “I would say, making sure that we have the providers in the areas so once we reach into that 1B and into the general population that we are getting those that are most at high risk.”

She hopes in March or April we will be vaccinating the general population.

Dr. Christ says just because we will start to see the vaccine roll out shortly, don’t relax on mask-wearing and social distancing just yet. It will still be quite a while before many of us get both doses and we start to see the population really protected.

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