Pima County residents ages 65-69 will be offered registration spots for the COVID-19 vaccine starting Thursday, but when appointments are available depends on vaccine availability.
The county will begin taking sign-ups for this age group primarily to avoid confusion, since the state’s new vaccination site at the University of Arizona will offer shots for 65- to 69-year-olds starting Thursday, Feb. 18.
“We know that this is a complicated message because, on the one hand, I’m telling you that vaccine supply is restricted; on the other hand I’m telling you that more people are going to be eligible for that restricted vaccine supply,” Dr. Francisco Garcia, the county’s chief medical officer, said Tuesday.
But even with the limited amount of vaccine available now, Garcia said making the age groups uniform is necessary to avoid confusion.
“I am worried that people will start to get confused and so rather than have different age eligibility at different locations we want to have uniform age eligibility across Pima County,” he said, “even if it poses some challenges for us.”
“We need to have a clear, consistent message,” he said.
The new site at the UA opens Thursday and is to be run by the Arizona Department of Health Services. People ages 65-69 are now allowed to register for that site and schedule appointments at podvaccine.azdhs.gov.
People ages 70 and older have already been able to register at Pima County or state sites and receive vaccinations.
So far in Pima County, nearly 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to already eligible people in health care, education, and protective services professions, as well as to people ages 70 and older.
County health officials hope that the increased supply of vaccine doses recently promised by the federal government will allow the state to provide more doses here.
“There is still a great deal of demand for appointments among those 70 and older and along with our partners, we are working hard to continue being efficient in getting every dose we can out to our community,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the county’s health director.
“The 65 to 69 age group is going to be one of the biggest we have added thus far,” she said.
“We have enough resources to continue accelerating our delivery. We just have to have the vaccine to do it.”
Pima County has a hotline set up to help with COVID-19 vaccination registration for the county-run sites. The phone number is 520-222-0119, and it is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The hotline is for people who need help registering for the vaccine or who can’t make an online appointment.
Those registering for the state-run site at the UA who don’t have computer access or need extra help can call 1-844-542-8201 for assistance.
Contact reporter Patty Machelor at email@example.com or 806-7754. On Twitter: @pattymachstar