State vaccine cut has county pumping brakes on Accelerated Vaccination Plan

Individuals will now have to wait longer to receive a first vaccine dose.

State vaccine cut has county pumping brakes on Accelerated Vaccination Plan
Vaccine drive-thru at UArizona (Source: Randy Metcalf)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pima County Health Department will instutute a new vaccine distribution priority plan next week, in response to reduced vaccine rationing by the state to the county.

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry told the Board of Supervisors the state had reduced the county’s allotment of doses for the second week in a row. Huckleberry noted a 40% decrease in doses last week, from 29,000 the first week of February to 17,850.

This means individuals will now have to wait longer to receive a first vaccine dose.

“We were so successful in giving first-dose vaccinations when we opened the 1B priority in the middle of January that we now have more than 100,000 people who need their second shot over the next three to four weeks,” said Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen. “We need to follow through on our promise to them, so that means first dose appointments will be limited for a while, which really slows down our Accelerated Plan, unfortunately.”

She says the reduced vaccine supply from the state will bring the County’s Accelerated Vaccination Plan to a near halt in coming weeks, if the state’s supply doesn’t loosen.

And the reduced vaccine supply will likely mean a reduction in operating hours at county vaccination sites.

On March 4, Banner Health will consolidate its vaccination center at the Banner North with its operation at the Banner-run center at Kino Sports Complex. Banner has already stopped making new appointments at the Cancer Center in anticipation of the consolidation.

The county and Banner will increase vaccination capacity at the Kino location, but only when there is more vaccine supply.

And the City of Tucson is also reducing hours at the Tucson Convention Center site by one hour a day, moving to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. Tucson Medical Center is limiting first-dose appointments to people 75 and older.

Vaccine distributions to community partners in rural parts of the county will also be limited and restricted, primarily to second-dose patients.

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