TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County is eyeing expansion of vaccinations and a transition into Phase 1B at the end of next week.
A news release announcing the plans follows:
Pima County leads the state in rate of COVID-19 vaccinations as of Jan. 5 and is gearing up to move into the next phase of vaccinations.
The County is currently in Phase 1A, which is for health care workers, including those in emergency medical services, and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.
While some other counties have moved into Phase 1B this week, Pima County is still vaccinating the 1A group due to the exceptional response from 1A-qualified organizations and their employees. That has resulted in the need for additional time in Phase 1A.
Those health care workers are still filling appointments with County-approved vaccinators, mostly at Tucson Medical Center and Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, but also at 11 other participating health care organizations. (See bottom of story for list.)
Now, the County is eyeing expansion and a transition into Phase 1B at the end of next week, according to Dr. Francisco Garcia, Pima County’s Deputy County Administrator and Chief Medical Officer.
Phase 1B prioritizes three groups – individuals 75 and older, education and child care workers, and protective service occupations (law enforcement, corrections officers, firefighters, and other emergency response staff).
The 1B phase also includes two additional groups -- essential services/critical industry workers and adults with high-risk conditions in congregate settings. Visit www.pima.gov/covid19vaccine for further breakdowns of professions within those groups.
“It’s wonderful that we have the highest vaccination rate in the state, but none of us should be happy with where we are right now,” said Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen. “It’s critical that as we are in an accelerated rate of transmission that we accelerate our immunization process. I’m grateful to Pima County that we are making this commitment.”
Cullen said the County is targeting the end of March to get through the 1B group.
To accommodate the rapid expansion of immunization, the County is planning up to four regional vaccination centers, starting with a site in the parking lot south of Kino Stadium, 2500 E. Ajo Way, by the end of next week. These four sites will feature drive-thru vaccinations, with capacity at Kino geared toward scaling up to deliver thousands vaccinations per day.
“These are logistically complicated operations,” Garcia said. “We would like to get one set up, get it going and well-established, and then plan for the second, third and more sites. We’re going to be doing this in phased way, and this is what you’ll see us doing in the next few weeks.”
Other sites under discussion are one at Rillito Regional Park, Tucson Convention Center and the University of Arizona.
The on-line registration system has not been finalized yet. When operational, there will also be a call-in option. Members of the public in the 1B group should not attempt to register for vaccinations in Pima County until the registration system is ready.
“Our goal is to make sure we have multiple entry points for folks who fit into any one of those five categories in Phase 1B to walk through,” Garcia said.
Some groups might be vaccinated at a work-site clinic, at one of the vaccination centers, or at their participating doctor’s office.
“Part of the strategy here is to have the greatest degree of flexibility in order to serve the largest number of people,” Garcia said. “At the end of the day, I care more about the number of people vaccinated than about making sure every single person walks in through the right door.”
Updates, current vaccine prioritization and further information about when and how to register will be on www.pima.gov/covid19vaccine.
The goal is to vaccinate about 300,000 people in 90 days.
“We believe we are on the right track,” Garcia said. “We have good partners on the ground and we are ready to move forward.”
Vaccination sites that are focused primarily on serving their affiliated staff:
- St. Joseph’s
- St. Mary’s
- El Rio
- Marana Healthcare
- Arizona Community Physicians
- NW Hospital (Serving NWOV and NW Sahuarita)
- Desert Senita
- United Community Health Center
- University of Arizona Campus Health
- Drexel Heights Fire Department
- Golder Ranch Fire Department