TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -During his State of the State speech on Monday, Jan. 11, Gov. Doug Ducey gave an update on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Arizona.
“We should take encouragement where we find it, starting with the breakthrough that will change everything. If last year was the year of the virus, this year will be the year of the vaccine,” Ducey said. “We started with vaccinations of medical personnel, since they’re the ones we count on to deliver it far and wide. The logistics of putting the vaccine within reach of everyone will be complex and demanding, but Arizona is going to do it fast and we are going to do it right. I assure you that we’ll do it with a real sense of urgency and purpose. [On Monday], our state’s largest county begins vaccinating teachers and cops … the state has launched a 24/7 vaccination site at a large and notable location: State Farm Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals. Everyone needs this vaccine and the sooner we all receive it, the more quickly we can get on with life as it should be.”
Pima County is now preparing to enter its next phase of the rollout, which will have teachers rolling up their sleeves.
“The 1A group with schools I believe they are on track for them to be finishing up this week,” said Pima County School Superintendent Dustin Williams.
Face masks couldn’t mask the excitement of these three Amphitheater athletic trainers as they received their first dose of the vaccine this week.
Physical therapists are included in the current phase of the rollout, along with coaches, school nurses and speech therapists.
“When you look at that 1A group [of school staff] across Pima County, you’re probably looking at maybe 1,000 [people],” Williams said.
Williams says the next phase will be a much bigger undertaking.
“You’ll be looking at something closer to 25,000 [teachers],” he said. “So, that 1B group also is paired with other 1B groups that are in the county. That group I’m told is much closer to 300,000.”
What took weeks to vaccinate school nurses and athletic staff could turn into months when it comes to teachers.
“We know right now we have given out about 31,000 vaccines across the county,” Williams said. “We know there are about 20,000 on hand. So, the 1B is going to be a bit of a slower process; slower than we want.”
Registration for teachers will open on Friday, Jan. 15.
Williams says it may be summer by the time all the educators who want a COVID-19 shot get one.
Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo has faith in county’s the distribution.
“They are fully prepared to execute the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines throughout the county via a supersite model, in which six or seven supersite vaccine hubs will be set up around the county,” Trujillo said.
Student vaccination is more of a gray area.
Even if they fall into the “general population” category, which is the last to be vaccinated, there have been no clinical trials for children. Also, no vaccine has been approved for emergency use for children under the age of 16 (and in most cases 18).
“What we have been told is that students are not on the list as of now,” Williams said.