Q&AZ: What You Need To Know About Getting The Coronavirus Vaccine In Arizona

By Katherine Davis-Young, Austin Fast
Published: Friday, January 15, 2021 - 5:10pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 2, 2021 - 4:38pm

Coronavirus vaccines are in limited supply nationwide. Right now, vaccines are available only to prioritized populations. More people will be able to access vaccines as more doses are manufactured and shipped to states.

KJZZ has been getting a lot of questions via the Q&AZ project about the rollout of the vaccine in Arizona and how to access it. Here's what we know.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story will be updated regularly as new information becomes available.

Maricopa County Public Health
Maricopa County's vaccine distribution phases.

Who is eligible to get a vaccine in Arizona right now?

As of March 2, most Arizona counties, including Maricopa County, have opened eligibility to prioritized groups within phase 1B. This makes the vaccine available to:

  • Health care workers
  • Emergency medical services workers
  • Long term care facility staff and residents
  • School staff and child care workers
  • Law enforcement
  • Adults 65 and older (Some sites will allow adults 55 and older to make appointments starting in March) 

Santa Cruz County has not yet expanded access to include adults 65 and older. Several counties have expanded access to include essential workers in the 1B category. Gila and Apache counties have opened eligibility to phase 1C adults with high-risk medical conditions. The state keeps track of each county’s current vaccination phase on its website

Where can I make an appointment for a vaccine?

There are hundreds of locations administering COVID-19 vaccines in Arizona and many sites have their own online appointment systems. You can find a list of vaccine sites statewide at azdhs.gov. Appointment information is also available by phone at 2-1-1 or 1-844-542-8201. 

The vaccination sites run by the Arizona Department of Health Services at State Farm Stadium, Phoenix Municipal Stadium, and Chandler-Gilbert Community College are currently fully booked. The state's appointment website is podvaccine.azdhs.gov. (This site is not supported by Android devices.) 

Several Arizona health clinics are now offering vaccines to eligible populations, including Clinica La FamiliaMountain Park Health, and Pleasant Pediatrics

Many Albertson’s, CVS, Fry's, Safeway, and Walgreens pharmacies are offering vaccines for eligible populations. The website VaccineFinder.com can help you check which pharmacies near you have vaccines available. 

You can find more  Maricopa County vaccine sites at maricopa.gov

Additional locations are being added statewide as more vaccines become available.

→ Get The Latest News On COVID-19 In Arizona 

Can adults 55 and older get vaccinated?

Some Arizona sites will begin offering vaccines to adults 55 and older beginning in March. 

The Arizona Department of Health Services will allow this age group to register for appointment at the sites it manages, including State Farm Stadium and Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Other sites run by county health departments may not be allowing this age group to register for appointments yet. 

Can university or college employees get vaccinated?

Maricopa County Public Health is limiting vaccine eligibility to K-12 school employees and child care workers at most vaccine sites in the county. However, the vaccination sites run by the Arizona Department of Health Services (State Farm Stadium, Phoenix Municipal Stadium, and Chandler-Gilbert Community College) have been offering vaccines to university and college employees. 

Can essential workers get vaccinated?

Essential workers are included in Phase 1B of Arizona's vaccine plan. As of March 1, Apache, Coconino, Gila, Graham La Paz, Navajo, Santa Cruz and Yavapai Counties are in this phase or beyond. Other counties, including Maricopa County, are still only vaccinating prioritized groups within the 1B phase. Definitions of essential workers may vary by county. 

"It's going to depend on the estimated populations of each of those groups and where that falls in the priority," Department of Health Services director, Dr. Cara Christ said Feb. 26. "In one county they may prioritize agriculture if they have  large number of individuals that they know need to be vaccinated whereas another county may prioritize transportation or grocery stores. So it's going to be left up to the counties." 

The state health department has outlined 1B essential workers based on federal guidelines as:

  • Power and utility workers
  • Food and agriculture-related occupations (packaging and distribution workers, grocery and restaurant workers)
  • Transportation and material-moving occupations (public transportation providers, airlines, gas stations, auto shop workers and other transportation network providers)
  • State and local government workers that provide crucial services for continuity of government
  • Other essential workers (e.g., business and financial services, supply chain for critical goods, funeral services, critical trades, etc.)

The state health department has added an eligibility checker to its website to help determine which workers are currently eligible for vaccines. 

When will Arizona enter the next phases of vaccine distribution?

Vaccine distribution phases are being determined at the county level. Maricopa County expects to reach Phase 2 and 3 of its vaccine plan by spring or summer, but exact dates have not yet been announced.

Marcy Flanagan, executive director of Maricopa County Public Health, said Feb. 18 she expects manufacturing and shipping of doses to speed up in coming weeks, especially following authorization of the new vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. But she said it could still take a few months before the county can expand vaccine eligibility to include essential workers or other high-risk populations.

"As far as a timeline for our plan, it really has always been dependent on how much vaccine we received in Arizona," Flanagan said. "That continues to be a factor that is really a big unknown.

A worker administers a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
A worker administers a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the State Farm Stadium vaccination site in Glendale on Jan. 12, 2021.

How can I get a vaccine appointment if I don’t have internet access or I’m having trouble with appointment websites?

Appointments for state-run vaccine sites can be made by phone by calling 2-1-1 or 1-844-542-8201.

Anyone who needs technical assistance accessing podvaccine.azdhs.gov should call 602-542-1000.

Arizona Department of Health Services director Dr. Cara Christ said someone else can make an appointment online on your behalf if you don’t have internet access.

“You can get them started and just have them pick the appointment,” she said.

The state’s appointment system is not supported by Android devices and users have reported other glitches. Christ said the state is still working to improve the site.

“It has been a work in progress,” Christ said. “We continue to improve.”

How can I make an appointment to get my second dose of the vaccine?

Follow up with the location where you received your first dose. You can also get assistance booking a second appointment at state-run vaccine sites by calling 2-1-1 or 1-844-542-8201.

Those who get their first shot at State Farm Stadium or Phoenix Municipal Stadium will have the option to schedule their second dose appointment when they show up for their first shot.

Three vaccines are currently approved for use in the U.S. The vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson requires only one dose. The vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. Your second dose must be from the same manufacturer as your first dose. Pfizer recommends a second dose after 21 days, Moderna recommends a second dose after 28 days. But Arizona Department of Health Services director, Dr. Cara Christ said timing does not need to be exact and second appointments can be scheduled for later. 

"That is still considered a valid dose and you will still get that full protection with that second dose,” Christ said.  

Cara Christ vaccine
Katherine Davis-Young/KJZZ
Nurse Machrina Leach gives a coronavirus vaccine to Dr. Cara Christ, director of Arizona's Department of Health Services during an event to mark the beginning of the state's vaccination campaign.

Are there any vaccination events just for older adults?

Maricopa County is periodically hosting pop-up vaccine events for adults 65 and older. Information about county vaccine sites is at maricopa.gov.

In Maricopa County, many Safeway, Albertson’s, Fry's, CVS, and Walgreens pharmacies are offering vaccines for adults 65 and older. Safeway and Albertson's appointments can be booked at mhealthcheckin.com. Fry's appointments can be booked at frysfood.com. Walgreens appointments can be booked at walgreens.com. CVS appointments can be booked at cvs.com.

The website VaccineFinder.com can help you check which pharmacies near you have vaccines available. 

Will school districts be providing vaccines for teachers and school staff?

Maricopa County is organizing specialized points of dispensing, or “PODs,” just for K-12 school staff and child care workers. Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine with Maricopa County Public Health said the county has planned several geographic areas that group together child care providers with public, private and charter schools. Each group is working with a pharmacy partner to plan vaccine distribution.

"Any staff member of a public, private, or charter school or childcare facility will be able to get vaccinated at the site closest to their work location," a county spokesperson said in an email to KJZZ. "We anticipate approximately 60,000 total people vaccinated through these limited-access PODs."

As of Feb. 22, first dose vaccine events have been held for all districts. School or child care workers who missed a vaccine in their area may sign up for a waiting list through Maricopa County Public Health.  Second dose vaccine events are planned throughout March. The schedule of events is at maricopa.gov.

More information about the county's plan for schools is at maricopa.gov

Can part-time residents get the vaccine in Arizona?

Yes, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, “place of permanent residence does not factor into whether someone can get vaccinated in Arizona.”

How are some Arizonans not in prioritized populations getting vaccines?

The state's POD sites at State Farm Stadium and Phoenix Municipal Stadium have been offering vaccines to "plus-ones" in some cases. For example, if an adult over 55 who qualifies for a vaccine is driven to their appointment by a loved one who is under 55, that driver may also be offered a shot. The Arizona Department of Health Services said this is a clinical decision made on a case-by-case basis depending on the supply of vaccines available that day. 

"We know that people are in constant contact with family members and loved ones. And the more we can do to surround them with vaccinated people, like their caretaker, it just keeps people safer," said department director, Dr. Cara Christ on Feb. 8.

Vaccination sites in Arizona are also in need of volunteers. Those who volunteer to help may also be eligible to receive a vaccine if they have not yet been inoculated. 

Recently retired doctors, nurses or other medically qualified volunteers are needed to administer shots. 

“[Arizona is] allowing those folks, if they’re four or five years out, to get a temporary license so they can come and provide vaccinations," said task force medical commander, Col. Tom Leeper, with the Arizona National Guard. 

Volunteers who don't have medical backgrounds can also help. 

“If they would like to do traffic control, provide documentation services, work on an iPad to register and check people in, there are a lot of things that volunteers can do,” Leeper said. 

Volunteers can register with the Arizona Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals. Maricopa County Public Health is also seeking volunteers for its vaccination sites. 

How many people have been vaccinated in Arizona? When will we reach herd immunity?

1,241,787 Arizonans have received vaccines and 617,250 people have received both doses as of March 2. The state health department regularly updates this data on its website

Vaccination efforts in Arizona started in mid-December. New daily cases and hospitalizations in the state have been declining since January. But there are about 7 million people in Arizona. Former director of Arizona’s Health Department Will Humble estimates about 5 million people in the state would need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. 

Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer of Banner Health said Feb. 17, “When we have roughly 70% to 80% herd immunity, it’s likely that you’ll see recommendations from public health experts regarding ceasing of current restrictions.” 

And Dr. Joe Gerald with the University of Arizona Zuckerman College of Public Health wrote in his Feb. 12 report, "While I believe this current outbreak will be Arizona’s largest, a smaller wave is possible this spring. However, the spring wave will pose a lesser threat as most at risk of hospitalization and death will have been vaccinated." 

vaccination sticker
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
People who received a vaccination in Glendale got a sticker.

Where can I find additional information about coronavirus vaccines in Arizona?

Additional information is available from the Arizona Department of Health Services and Maricopa County Public Health.

Have another question about the coronavirus vaccine? Ask us at qaz.kjzz.og.

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