Officials say they're taking a tiered approach to vaccinate the most fragile people first.

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- The Phase 1A vaccine rollout includes long-term care facilities, but individuals in assisted living facilities have not yet received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Officials say it’s because of a tiered approach to vaccinate the most fragile people first.

Jorji Mills can’t wait to be able to hug her 100-year-old mother, Lola, who resides in a Scottsdale assisted living facility. “She’s doing a little better but we can’t explain the pandemic to her,” says Mills. “At one point she said, 'Nobody loves me,' and I said, 'We all love you, mom, we just can’t come inside.'”

With parts of Arizona now moving into Phase 1B, Mills worried her mother might be overlooked.

Arizona’s Family reached out to CVS, which will be handling vaccinations at Lola’s residence. The retail pharmacy says it has partnered with 900 long-term care facilities in Arizona which includes skilled-nursing facilities and assisted living facilities. A spokesperson says, so far, CVS has vaccinated nearly 7,000 residents and staff at more than 80 skilled-nursing facilities.

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CVS is still working through vaccinations at skilled-nursing facilities.

“We will begin vaccinations at assisted-living facilities on January 18 when the state decided to activate that type of facility and other long-term care locations,” according to a statement provided by CVS.

“This is a challenging logistical nightmare so the fact that is moving in the direction that we want it to is good,” says Dana Kennedy, Executive Director of AARP Arizona.

Kennedy has been vocal about protecting seniors during the pandemic. She acknowledges the challenges ahead as Arizona has nearly 150 skilled-nursing facilities and 2,200 assisted living facilities.

“It’s day-to-day and I feel like it’s a ticking time bomb right now with our numbers escalating, the way they are escalating,” says Kennedy. “We have got to get them vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Mills just wants her mother to thrive. “It’s very difficult to communicate on the phone,” says Mills. “They need to see you, they need to touch you.”

 

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