Health

Arizona well being officers decrease vaccine age cutoff to 65 beginning Tuesday – KTAR.com

arizona-well-being-officers-decrease-vaccine-age-cutoff-to-65-beginning-tuesday-ktar-com

Nurse gives an injection with the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19 disease to an employee at the Bethel Hospital in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. A total of 66 employees will be vaccinated at the hospital with the first the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

PHOENIX – Arizona health officials decided Wednesday to lower the age requirement for phase 1B COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to 65 starting Tuesday.

The change will open up vaccine opportunities for more than 750,000 Arizonans, the state health department confirmed Wednesday.

Those in eligible counties will be able to register for the vaccine starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

“As more vaccine reaches Arizona, we will continue refining our plan to maximize the benefits of this still-limited resource,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services said in a press release. “One of our priorities is supporting the health and well-being of Arizonans by getting these vaccines into the community as widely and efficiently as possible.”

On Tuesday, the Trump administration urged states to immediately start vaccinating other groups lower down the priority scale, including people age 65 and older and younger people with certain health problems.

As of Tuesday, 12 of Arizona’s 15 counties had moved into phase 1B of the vaccination plan. Maricopa County was limiting shots to the priority segment of 1B: educators, child care providers, law enforcement and adults 75 and older. Around 750,000 people fall into those categories, according to state estimates.

Counties can create plans that don’t align with state recommendations if they feel they can make better use of the available vaccine supply.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that the federal government will start basing vaccine allocations partly on how successful states have been in administering those already provided.

Christ said Wednesday on KTAR News 92.3 FM that Arizona was “doing relatively well” in distributing vaccines even before launching a high-capacity 24-hour site at State Farm Stadium in Glendale this week.

“We’re about 16th in the nation for the number of doses vaccinated, and that’s even before you look at adding the State Farm Stadium vaccination site,” she said.

Christ said the stadium can currently administer 6,000 shots per day, with the capacity to double that amount when more vaccine is available.

On Tuesday evening, the state health department said stadium appointments were fully booked through Tuesday but slots were open through the rest of January. More than 80,000 people booked appointments at the site during the first two days of registration.

The department has a vaccine-finder page with a map of active and pending locations and links to registration websites.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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