Arizona Opens Another Mass Vaccination Site, But Demand Is Slowing

By Katherine Davis-Young, Vaughan Jones
Published: Thursday, April 22, 2021 - 3:46pm
Updated: Sunday, April 25, 2021 - 4:38pm

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Katherine Davis-Young/KJZZ
The Arizona Department of Health Services launched a COVID-19 vaccination site at WestWorld of Scottsdale on April 22, 2021.

COVID-19 vaccinations began Thursday at WestWorld of Scottsdale. The events facility is the newest mass vaccination site from Arizona’s Department of Health Services. But it opens as demand for vaccines in Arizona is slowing.

As of Monday, Arizona was delivering an average of 48,000 vaccines a day. But one week prior, the seven-day average was about 58,000 shots a day. Arizona has also been falling in state-by-state rankings of per capita vaccine administration.  

The indoor, walk-through site at WestWorld of Scottsdale has the capacity to administer 5,000 shots a day. But Department of Health Services director, Dr. Cara Christ, told reporters Thursday, after months of limited supply and high demand, the state now has plenty of vaccines and fewer people signing up.

"We're looking at different ways to make it more convenient for Arizonans when they are ready to get vaccinated," Christ said. She said the state is working on messaging campaigns and outreach programs to encourage vaccination. 

About 40% of Arizonans have had at least one dose of a vaccine, but experts estimate nearly twice as many would need to be immunized to achieve herd immunity. Christ has said she expects people who are hesitant to be vaccinated may be more willing to get a shot if it came from their doctor, but she said Thursday the state will continue its mass vaccination efforts for now. 

"We are just maintaining geographical availability of these state PODs. They are still efficient," Christ said. "I think they're still an important tool, but we continue to reassess." 

Christ did not provide an estimated timeline, but said she hopes the state will move away from a mass vaccination model "soon," to shift toward a typical vaccine ordering system.

“That’s when you’ll start to see it get into more doctor’s offices and community health centers, just like you see your flu vaccine, your measles vaccine, those types of things,” Christ said.  

Former state health director Will Humble says Arizona’s current strategy is no longer the most efficient way to provide inoculations.

“We peaked about, I would say, three weeks ago, for the number of vaccines given per day, and we’re on a slow decline,” said Humble.

Humble says the main issue is the reliance on mass vaccination centers.

He says the best way to vaccinate Arizonans is to allow for pharmacies to distribute vaccines to walk-in customers, and for more community vaccination sites in convenient locations.

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

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