Pima County will begin receiving federal assistance in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday, although not in the way originally planned.
After Arizona and federal officials could not agree on how to run a federal mass vaccination site here, the plan switched to mobile outreach. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending two mobile vaccination units, administrative staff and federal vaccinators here to help the county vaccinate its hardest-to-reach communities.
The units will operate at two concurrent locations for three days before moving to the next site. Locations were selected based on census tract data and the social vulnerability of the area.
“We’re extremely grateful to FEMA for partnering with us on this effort to reach pockets of the community who may not have easy access to this life-saving vaccine,” said County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. “The ability to offer vaccines during evenings and weekends will enable us to reach folks whose work or school schedules prevent them from getting a vaccine now.”
Both the two-dose Moderna and single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available for walk-up registrants 18 years old and older on a first-come, first-served basis. Following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, vaccinators will return to each community 28 days after their first visit to provide the second dose.
Each mobile unit will have the capacity to administer 250 vaccines per day, and that number could increase depending on demand.
Local emergency workers will be at each location in case of any rare, adverse reactions to the vaccine, and help will also be available to anyone needing assistance with mobility, language or other accommodations.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Health Services vaccine distribution site on the University of Arizona campus is still allowing people without appointments to walk up to the Ina E. Gittings Building at 1737 E. University Blvd., or drive up to the UA mall, and get vaccinated.
However, beginning on Monday, May 3, the university will discontinue its drive-thru clinic and move all vaccination operations inside Gittings.
As more people are vaccinated and demand decreases, the university’s site will be adjusting its operating hours, and June 25 will be the last day, officials said.