PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – The Maricopa County Department of Public Health Administration says it will open appointments at POD (point of distribution) sites for Phase 1B vaccinations starting Monday, Jan. 11."There is no sign-up process available prior to Jan. 11th," the County says on its website.
Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, Medical Director for Maricopa County Public Health, said they're not posting appointments early because they're making a slow transition. She says most of the appointments Monday are already booked by healthcare workers in group 1A.
"We're not just going from 1A to vaccinating healthcare workers to just vaccinating 1B," said Sunenshine.
As some Arizona counties wrap up Phase 1A of the COVID-19 vaccination plan, officials are looking ahead to the next phase, which includes essential workers and people older than 75, and they're enlisting the Arizona National Guard for help.
78-year-old Buffie Kelly beat cancer, and now the substitute teacher is ready for the world to beat COVID.
"I am so excited," said Kelly. "I just think the sooner we can get those shots, the better it will be for everyone."
The county said its website will have more info about how do to that Monday.
Although Arizona's vaccine rollout has been slower than expected, the coordinator of a Chandler point of distribution (POD) described the effort as "phenomenal."
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, more than 119,650 doses of have been administered statewide, nearly 75,000 of them in Maricopa County.
"We were ready," Heather James said of her site. "This is a coordinated effort. This is a lot of agencies coming together, and they moved quicker than I've ever seen anybody move before to get in place."
James said there was some initial hesitation about getting the vaccine, even among health care workers.
"Once the first round of folks started coming through, and [others] see their coworkers, who are good, and everything went well … then all of a sudden, there was this large uptick. Everybody is like, 'All right, let me go and get it,'" she explained. "About day five, we really hit our stride."
Phase 1B, which is already underway in Gila and Pinal counties, is a much larger group than Phase 1A.
- K-12 school staff
- Child care workers
- Law enforcement and protective services
- Adults 75 and older
As Phase 1B ramps up, early appointments will be limited.
"Appointments will be available at POD sites that are not already fully-booked for second doses to individuals from Phase 1A," explains Public Health's Phase 1B webpage. "Additional POD vaccination sites will be added as appointments become available at their locations."
The county says "more options for vaccination outside of POD sites" are expected to come online soon, including pharmacies and special clinics for school staff.
People in Phase 1B are asked to bring their proof of age or employment when they arrive to get their vaccines. The county says they are working on creating more options to register for appointments for those who do not have access to internet.
The half a million people in group 1B won't all get an appointment next week, but the county is opening more distribution sites.
"We've already been in talks with superintendents and school partners and childcare partners and also pharmacies, to set up specialized clinics, pairing a pharmacy with multiple districts, so they can set up their own school POD," said Sunenshine.
Once the county gets more Moderna vaccine, she said the county hopes primary care doctors can help with the shots.
Arizona National Guard to help with mass vaccinations
When Phase 1B gets underway, more than 700 citizen-soldiers will be there to help. The Arizona National Guard says these volunteers are retired medical professionals and current medical students. Once they're trained, they'll deploy to vaccination sites throughout the state.
"This is a monumental call to service that requires a whole-of-community approach to accomplish," said Maj. Gen. Michael T. McGuire, the director of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, in a news release.