MARICOPA COUNTY, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Officials with Maricopa County have just given Arizona's Family more information about COVID-19 vaccine distribution delays. As of Tuesday, Jan. 4, 101,030 Arizonans had been vaccinated, far below the original numbers projected.
According to the Maricopa County Public Health Department website, they have administered 36,121 doses so far.
We asked County spokesman Fields Moseley about why more people had not gotten their dose. "A few issues have come up, and we have worked to address them as quickly as possible so we can vaccinate our healthcare workers as quickly as possible," he said.
Moseley says there are reduced Point of Distribution (POD) hours this week. The County is partnering with local healthcare systems and municipalities to operate five drive-through POD sites across the county for the first phase of vaccine distribution, primarily to health care workers. The public can get more information about the Phase IA rollout online to see when and where vaccines will be given for those eligible. Details about the prioritization phases can be found here. Right now, the distribution sites are only open to eligible health care workers who have appointments scheduled.
Arizona's Family asked Moseley asked whether the distribution has been going slower or faster than planned. He detailed for us some scheduling issues that have come up at two County PODs that contributed to fewer-than-expected vaccinations. Those included technical issues, and the arrival of the vaccine over the holidays. "We have worked with ADHS to resolve these issues to the best of our ability and implemented workarounds and communication to inform people of what is happening," he said.
When asked about the County's efforts to get more vaccines to people, Moseley said that in addition to the PODs, Maricopa County is allocating vaccines to other partners to vaccinate their workforces that qualify in Phase 1A, such as smaller federally-qualified healthcare centers.
And as the County moves into other phases, Moseley says we can expect to see more vaccination sites that can serve the populations eligible in those phases. This will likely include:
- Large employers who can set up closed PODs for their staff
- Primary care providers
- Federally-qualified healthcare providers
On Dec. 30, Gov. Ducey issued an executive order that would help expand and speed up the COVID-19 vaccine distribution statewide. "This is a health emergency, and we need all levels of government and our health system operating as such. Vaccines don’t do any good sitting in a freezer," said Ducey at the time.
The first vaccine arrived in Arizona on December 14 from Pfizer to a Maricopa County health facility.
Arizona's Family has also learned one of the reasons for some delays. The Department of Health Services website was having problems scheduling eligible health care workers. Some people were actually kicked out of the system. Others, like Dr. Ed Westerfield, simply couldn't get an appointment. "It took me four days," said Westerfield. "I can't tell you how many tries, to try to get through the system, because it would go through saying that there were no slots available… day after day after day."
Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, estimated that the slowdown on the state website resulted in 20,000 to 25,000 fewer healthcare providers being vaccinated than expected. "The system was so bizarre that healthcare workers from Maricopa County were told to go get their vaccine in Show Low or Globe, and some of them actually drove there to get their vaccine," said Humble. "It was a computer glitch on the state health department website."
Arizona's Department of Health Services released this statement:
The state’s vaccine management system, developed and tested in concert with local partners, is and has been functioning properly.
It has been used without issues in most counties.
We have worked closely with Maricopa County to address an inter-operability issue between the county’s prescreening tool and the statewide vaccine management system.