Vaccine rationing causing delay in vaccination for at-risk populations.

Updated: Feb. 12, 2021 at 10:21 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pima County Health Department will institute a new vaccine distribution priority plan next week due to low vaccine availability.

It’s causing health officials to make a difficult decision: Who will get the vaccines?

“We anguished over this,” said Pima County Health Department Director Dr. Theresa Cullen.

Pima County announced Friday they’ll have to stop making first-dose appointments and focus on fully vaccinating those who’ve already started the process.

“We decided we can’t cancel second shots, especially in the group that’s getting these second shots because people were really concerned. It’s already been difficult for some of our seniors to get in so we said, “Oh, we can’t confuse people even more” so we did that,” said Cullen.

This comes as the county had been focusing on vaccine equity for vulnerable populations, trying to find ways to serve those who can’t make it to a POD site.

“There’s not a bus, you can’t take Sun Tran and go through one of the pods,” said Cullen. “So we, in a sense, automatically created difficulties for certain sub-populations we know are most at risk.”

The county put on its first mobile clinic Feb. 6th, targeting an underserved area and vaccinating 500 people. But in order to do this again, they need the supply.

“Finding enough space in a very small inventory to keep the big pods going and doing the outreach is really challenging,” said Immunization Coordinator Crystal Rambaud.

Rambaud said any and all remaining doses are serving our large state and local pods, even though they are cutting back hours as well.

“Because they push so much volume, now we’re really having to make sure they have a lot of inventory moving forward because there’s so many boosters that are coming due,” said Rambaud.

It’s why this weekend’s mobile clinic, meant to target the African American community, is being postponed until the county can secure more doses. Meaning it’s a waiting game until relief arrives.

“The good news, is I know we can change this,” said Cullen.

The Health Department said that they have already planned to set aside 500 doses from the next shipment in order to make up the canceled mobile clinic on February 20th.

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