TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order taking control of the vaccine rollout which has been very slow to get off the ground.
It’s not just Arizona, many states have been slow to start, in part because the number of doses hasn’t been what’s promised from the federal government.
Arizona was planning to distribute the doses to the counties which then, in turn, had to come up with plans for distribution.
But since two of its largest contractors are CVS and Walgreens, which both operate statewide, the state feels a statewide plan would be more consistent.
“What we’re identifying is that there is a need for a statewide approach,” said Dr. Cara Christ, the Director of the Arizona State Health Department. “What we’re going to be looking at is establishing a kind of statewide network.”
The distribution and vaccination program is likely the largest logistical operation the state has undertaken.
Dr. Christ says the state is in a “sort of learn as you go” mode.
Right now, there are 70 providers and locations which are vaccinating the Phase 1-A category of first responders, nurses and doctors who are on the front lines. Only about 20% of them have been vaccinated so far, less than hoped.
The state says the process will speed up quickly because there will soon be as many as 650 sites which have been approved by the state.
Meantime, the state is preparing for Phase 1-B which includes essential workers like police, fire, grocery employees, energy workers and the recently added 75+ crowd.
Dr. Christ believes those 75+ vulnerable adults may, in some cases, be hard to find since many of them live in their own homes. The state will be adding an online application on its website next week where they can sign up. It’s also hoped other family members may help them especially if they are not internet savvy.
Dr. Christ also announced that 300 nurses from all over the country will be coming to Arizona next week to help with the critical shortage which will likely be even more critical if an expected surge happens after the holidays.
“We are starting to se increased staffing come in,” Dr. Christ said. “Because we know hospitals have the beds, they have the space, they have the ventilators and what we’re identifying is what the rest of the country is, the barrier is staffing.”