Arizona ditching mass vaccination sites in favor of direct outreach

State also considering financial incentives to get people vaccinated
Published: Jun. 4, 2021 at 7:22 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 7:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Arizona Department of Health announced all of its state-run vaccination sites will close by June 28.

The state-run site at the University of Arizona will close its doors June 25.

The demand at the sites has dropped dramatically from the peak demand in March, when the sites administered 169,000 doses in a week to 13,000 doses over the Memorial Day weekend.

Granted it was a holiday weekend, but other weeks leading up to it ranged from 30,000-50,000, still a significant drop according to the ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ.

“We still have the ability to snap back up if we need to,” Christ said. “If there was a significant demand in vaccine and we felt we needed a mass vaccination site for it.”

It took only five or six days to set up the state’s first mass vaccine site at the State Farm arena in Glendale.

At the present rate, it doesn’t appear Arizona will achieve the goal set by President Joe Biden of having 70% vaccinated by the Fourth of July.

“We’d love to get to that 70% goal by July 4th,” she said. “But we’re going to continue working whether we get there or not.”

What the state is doing by closing the mass vaccine sites is switching strategies. The new strategy will take the vaccine into the communities, churches, social gatherings and schools with pop-up sites.

“I’d like to get to 70% but it’s hard to put a number on it when you have to go to talk to people individually to now encourage people to get vaccinated,” she said.

The state has hired 13 companies to do the outreach and develop strategies.

“We are looking at doing some more town halls, some more of that direct outreach a well as just being out in the community as much as we can,” she said.

Besides face-to-face encouragement, the state is also considering financial inducements to get people vaccinated like a lottery, which has been successful in states like Ohio and California.

“We did receive federal funding to help with vaccinations, equity vaccination and those kinds of things” Christ said. “We could use some of that money for potential incentives.”

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