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AARP Arizona urges state health department for booster shot rollout plan

The AARP is concerned with how the COVID-19 vaccination booster will be distributed.
The AARP is concerned about how the COVID-19 vaccination booster will be distributed.(AZ Family)
Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 11:33 AM MST
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PHOENIX, Ariz. (3TV/CBS 5) -- AARP State Director Dana Kennedy told Arizona’s Family she knows how important a potential booster shot is for Arizona’s elderly, but she is concerned with how it’ll get to them, which is why she sent a letter to the state health department last week.

In that letter Kennedy writes, “the initial vaccine rollout was not without its challenges.” She said many older Arizonans could not access or navigate the online system and those who were homebound were left without the lifesaving vaccine for weeks. The letter sent on Tuesday, Sept. 14, urges the state health department to come up with a comprehensive booster shot rollout plan.

It includes public education for online appointments or allowing them to make an appointment by phone. They also want to see shots delivered or transporting people to vaccine sites who aren’t able to leave their homes or facilities.

“People are starting to get COVID in long-term care facilities so you may have new residents and remember these people can’t get out and get the vaccine, so we need to make sure we are getting the vaccine to them, so we want to make sure the state has a plan especially those 65 and older for long-term care facilities,” said Kennedy.

Dr. Ross Goldberg agrees Arizona’s most vulnerable needs these shots. “It makes sense if there is concern of a little bit of waning 6-8 months after you got your shots,” said Dr. Goldberg. “You’re seeing a more aggressive version of the virus now, you know. ... It makes sense to get that extra layer of protection for those who are most at risk.”

Arizona’s Family reached out the Arizona Department of Health Services on Friday evening, Sept. 17, after receiving AARP’s letter. A spokesperson for the health department said they did not receive the letter and provided a response to the letter Arizona’s Family sent them.

“There is ample supply of Pfizer vaccine throughout Arizona, and most of those 65 and older can simply be able to go to a pharmacy, doctor or other provider to get vaccinated.

“A CDC program, not the state, handled initial vaccinations in all long-term care facilities and many assisted living facilities. This program used the Moderna vaccine, which isn’t covered by today’s recommendation.

“We’ll be happy to work with AARP to discuss concerns, connect them with information and collaborate on messaging. When Pfizer boosters get final approval, ADHS and local partners will message availability and eligibility. As other outlets have reported, Maricopa County, which is the boots on the ground for public health in the Phoenix area, has had a robust program for homebound vaccinations, as well as supporting vaccination in congregate settings.”

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