Alison Steinbach , Stephanie Innes | Arizona Republic
Maricopa County will be opening limited registration for the COVID-19 vaccine to members of the second priority group starting Monday.
Prioritized individuals in Phase 1B will be able to start signing up online Monday for appointments. Spots will be limited at first because Phase 1A for health care workers is continuing.
“We know everyone is ready to move to the next step, and so are we,” said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director of disease control for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. “We’re trying to finalize all of these details as fast as we can to ensure a smooth experience for everyone who can get the vaccine.”
Information on where vaccinations will occur and how to sign up will be posted on maricopa.gov/5651/Phase-1B starting Monday. There is no registration available for 1B individuals before then. The county public health department can be reached at 602-506-6767.
Those who can sign up first are K-12 school staff and child care workers; law enforcement officers, protective service employees and government-employed security officers; and adults 75 and older.
Education and law enforcement workers should check with their employers before signing up through the county, as they may have other vaccine distribution plans.
Other Phase 1B groups, including adults living in congregate settings and other essential workers, will be prioritized after the initial groups.
Appointments first will be available at the county’s Point of Dispensing (POD) sites, which have been used for Phase 1A vaccinations for health care workers and at-risk first responders. Phase 1B individuals will be able to sign up for open slots at the POD sites that are not already booked for second doses for Phase 1A individuals. Phase 1A people still will be able to sign up for their first shots alongside prioritized 1B individuals.
Sunenshine said rather than finishing Phase 1A before moving to 1B, the county is making a “slow transition” to make sure all available appointments are used. She said the majority of Monday’s appointments are already filled by health care workers, but 1B individuals will be able to take extra spots.
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“What we’re trying to do is open up to the priority groups in 1B as soon as we can because we know people are anxious to get vaccinated, knowing that we’re still vaccinating health care workers, but not wanting to waste a single opportunity,” she said.
As the county receives more doses and ramps up its programs, vaccines will likely be allocated to places outside the POD sites for these prioritized groups. That could include vaccinations at pharmacies and federally qualified health centers for those 75 and older and vaccination clinics at places of employment for essential workers. There will also be specialized clinics or mini-PODs for school staff and child care workers.
“We’ve said all along that PODs are only one piece of vaccine distribution,” Sunenshine said. “The more vaccine doses we get, the more sites we can allocate vaccine to and we can make available to the public.”
Only those in Phase 1A and prioritized 1B with appointments will be able to get the vaccine. Walk-ins are not allowed.
Individuals will be required to show their appointment confirmation along with confirmation they’re in Phase 1B, such as an ID showing their age or a work badge or paycheck proving place of employment.
The county will update maricopa.gov/covid19vaccine as more groups are able to get vaccinated and as more sites open, with the end goal of vaccinating as many county residents as are willing.
After Phase 1B comes 1C, which includes adults 65 and over and adults with high-risk medical conditions.
Phase 2 (spring and summer) is remaining Phase 1 individuals, additional high-risk or critical populations and the general population.
Phase 3 (summer and beyond) is remaining Phase 1 and 2 individuals and the general population.
Pima County to start next phase soon
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Pima County plans to start wrapping up Phase 1A so it can move into 1B as early as late next week. County health officials say 1B is a large group that will require “significant effort and logistics.”
The county hopes to facilitate “multiple entry points” for the large 1B group to get a vaccine, said Dr. Francisco Garcia, the county’s chief medical officer. It may be a worksite clinic, a POD at a hospital or individual doctors’ offices, he said. The strategy is to have the greatest degree of flexibility to get the greatest number of people vaccinated, he said.
Additional vaccine sites in Pima County are expected to start going up next week, one by one, in a phased way, Garcia said.
Phase 1B will likely continue in Pima County until the end of March, Garcia said. The county hopes to get everyone who wants the vaccine will have received at least one of their doses by early summer.
“What matters is that we get a significant portion of our community vaccinated,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the county health director. “It’s up to us as your public health department, coupled with the other health care facilities in the county to make sure that we get those out as quickly and safely as we can.”
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For now, Pima County will be using the state’s vaccine registration system for the general public but also may develop its own registration tools in the future, Cullen said. The county is also working on making availability for people to register by phone rather than online, she said.
Other counties also starting 1B
Pinal County was the first to shift to Phase 1B individuals, with sign-up available online.
Gila County this week began providing vaccines to people in the 1B categories. People can call 928-402-8888 or email Covid19vaccine@gilacountyaz.gov to set up an appointment.
Mohave County is also starting the transition, with vaccine immediately available to protective service workers. Vaccine providers will likely start inoculating adults 75 and older late next week. Prioritized Phase 1B individuals can contact providers to schedule appointments.
For information about other counties, visit the county’s public health department website.
For statewide information, see the state’s vaccine webpage at azhealth.gov/covid19vaccine.
Reach the reporter at Alison.Steinbach@arizonarepublic.com or at 602-444-4282. Follow her on Twitter @alisteinbach.
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