TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The state of Arizona has reversed its position and will allow FEMA and Pima County to open two federal sites to distribute vaccine to some of the most hard hit and hard to reach areas in Tucson.
In a letter sent to FEMA and to the county, Dr. Cara Christ said “Pima County has provided their assurances they will be able to support these sites.”
Following a week of back and forth after the state first refused to support the site, Governor Doug Ducey said on Wednesday that he would reconsider the state’s decision, which led to today’s announcement.
What it means is, two sites, the El Pueblo Neighborhood Center and the Events Center at Kino, will receive 6,000 doses a day for eight weeks from FEMA to serve an underserved and hard hit area.
Those doses would be supplied by FEMA and would more than double the number of doses it now receives.
The state says however, it is concerned whether the county can pull it off.
“The only caveat, as long as it does not result in a reduction of existing vaccine supply to the state or impact state vaccine and resources,” Dr. Christ said.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, who learned of the decision from the media, said he will send off a letter to the Governor thanking him for the reversal.
The state, which has control over the vaccination process, had for two weeks denied the county’s request to set up an independent site with FEMA outside the state’s control.
In a letter sent to FEMA by Dr. Christ, she says she’s concerned the county won’t be able to put together enough resources to properly manage the sites.
“We are skeptical of their ability to provide the necessary resources and personnel,” she said in the letter. If these requirements are not able to be met of these concerns continue to persist, we will not be able to continue to delegate authority to Pima County for this activity.”
But Huckelberry refutes the state’s concerns in a statement released late this afternoon.
“This afternoon I received a copy of the letter sent from Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that authorizes a FEMA-supported vaccination POD in Pima County. On behalf of the Board of Supervisors, I thank Gov. Ducey for his thoughtful reconsideration and allowing FEMA to vaccinate more than 210,000 county residents. The County Health Department will resume its planning with FEMA to begin administering these vaccines to County residents as soon as possible. I will be responding directly to Dr. Christ about her unfounded reservations and unwarranted criticisms expressed in her letter. Pima County has been operating multiple vaccination PODs since December without incident and with little to no state assistance.”