Q&AZ: Can Arizonans 65 And Older Get COVID-19 Vaccines Now?

By Austin Fast
Published: Sunday, January 17, 2021 - 5:05am
Updated: Sunday, January 17, 2021 - 9:17am

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Katherine Davis-Young/KJZZ
Banner Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel gives a vaccine to Emily Beck at the Arizona State Fairgrounds on Dec. 17, 2020. Beck is an ICU nurse who has been working with COVID-19 patients.

A listener asked through KJZZ's Q&AZ project why Arizona is recommending COVID-19 vaccinations in Phase 1B for adults aged 75 and older, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many other states are allowing those aged 65 and older to receive vaccines in Phase 1B.

Federal health officials recently revised guidelines to add people aged 65 to 74 into those eligible for Phase 1B. Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ announced Friday that Arizona is also now recommending counties make adults 65 and older eligible for the vaccine. The state has indicated this population will be able to register for February appointments at the State Farm Stadium site in Glendale and a new vaccination site at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19. Click here to access the registration website.

However, Christ made clear that just because the state is recommending Arizonans 65 and older should be eligible for vaccine doesn't mean each county will be able to do so immediately. 

“The counties are the local experts on the ground, and we know that they have the ability to sub-prioritize below that," Christ said at a news conference Friday. "The entire state is dealing with local vaccine availability, and that we just don't have enough to meet the demand for what we want to do. So we are looking at where vaccine is not being utilized as efficiently, (and) bringing it to places that are using it more efficiently so that we can make sure that as many Arizonans are getting vaccinated as possible, and that vaccine is not just sitting in freezers not being used." 

Maricopa County health officials said last week they can’t open up other sites to those 65 or older until the county’s vaccine supply increases.

“Maricopa County is dedicated to its current mission of serving those in Phases 1A and prioritized 1B,” said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine with Maricopa County Public Health on Jan. 14. “Until we can get further along in that mission, we are not going to be able to open up and expand to other groups until that vaccine opens up in supply.”

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