On Monday I had the honor of taking President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on a virtual tour of our State Farm Stadium vaccination site in Glendale. During the tour, the vice president raised an issue that many people share. Here’s a lightly edited version of our exchange:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, Doctor. I join the President: thank you, thank you. This is an incredible model. How are you reaching out to your hardest-hit communities and those who may have a difficult time with transportation or just, proportionally, are some of the hardest hit but maybe not receiving the vaccine at the greatest numbers? What kind of outreach are you doing?
- CHRIST: So that is a really great question, Madam Vice President, and something that, here in Arizona, we feel strongly about. So this is just one portion of our state vaccination plan. So we are looking to partner with community leaders to put community-based pods in some of those hard-to-reach and targeted ZIP codes. We have contracted with communications groups that specialize in reaching our Hispanic/Latino or our hard-to-reach populations to do intense communication about the importance of vaccine.
We’re also working with our state’s Medicaid program to ensure that we’ve got non-medical transport available that they can use if they want to come out here to one of these sites or any other sites. And we’re also taking advantage of the CDC’s retail pharmacy partnership to make sure that we’re getting those vaccines into pharmacies in hard-hit areas, as well as our community health centers.
And so that’s just a little bit about the plan, but we definitely are trying to target those populations because we know how at risk they are.
I share this because it underscores the importance of this issue for us at DHS. Over the days and weeks ahead, I’ll share more about our plans to reach this critical segment of Arizona’s population. Now, though, the context is important as you explore today’s update to our data dashboard.
When the first COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Arizona in mid-December, local health jurisdictions began working with their partners to begin vaccine distribution and administration under Arizona’s “local allocator” model. Since that time, ADHS has been working to further improve the speed and efficiency of vaccine delivery. With the support of multiple partners, ADHS stood up the state-operated 24/7 vaccination site at State Farm Stadium. As of today, over 162,000 Arizonans have been vaccinated at this site since it opened Jan. 11. A second state-run site opened Feb. 1 at Arizona State University’s Phoenix Municipal Stadium has vaccinated over 12,000 patients in its first week of operation. As of today, over 920,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in Arizona. We have significant additional capacity to scale up appointments at these sites as well as open others throughout the state. Our limiting factor is the number of doses allocated to Arizona by our federal partners.
Today, we released a new update to our COVID-19 dashboard to show Arizona’s vaccination progress. We’ve added data points into a new Vaccine Administration section showing information about the COVID-19 vaccine in Arizona, including the total number of administered vaccine doses, the total number of vaccines administered each day, the number of unique Arizonans getting their first dose, and the number of Arizonans with the completed series (currently counted as two doses of Pfizer or Moderna). Along with the vaccine administration information, the dashboard shows the age, race, ethnicity, and gender of those receiving the vaccine. The dashboard also allows you to click on the map or the “State POD” button to see this data by county- or state-operated sites.
This new data provides additional information on vaccination efforts and highlights the strong work of our public health and healthcare partners to increase Arizona’s vaccination capacity. Because of the limited supply of vaccine, Arizona has been vaccinating based on the prioritization recommendations of the Vaccine and Antiviral Prioritization Advisory Committee (VAPAC). Due to the phased approach of vaccine distribution, the demographics presented here are not yet expected to align with general population demographics. For example, the distribution of age or race/ethnicity among the healthcare worker population, protective services category, and education and childcare professionals is not the same as the distribution among the general Arizona population. As Arizona continues moving through the vaccination phases and begins vaccinating Phase 1C and Phases 2 and 3, we expect demographics of vaccine administered to more closely align with those of the general population. State and local partners will continue to monitor this data to implement interventions to address gaps and increase access to vaccine among all groups in Arizona.