The distribution of COVID-19 vaccine to Pima County will drop by 40% next week, compared to the previous two weeks, forcing the county to temporarily focus more on second shots than getting new doses administered.
Pima County will get 17,850 doses next week instead of the nearly 30,000 received weekly for the last two weeks.
The decrease in vaccine being given to the county is because more was recently given to Pima County, said C.J. Karamargin, spokesman for Gov. Doug Ducey.
“The thinking here is to keep fair and equitable,” he said. “The decrease this week is to make up for the excess in doses” previously.
He said it’s also because Pima County has 40,542 unused doses of the Moderna vaccine and 8,528 of the Pfizer.
The Arizona Department of Health Services is “working to make sure those doses get used and get reported as required under the (governor’s) executive order,” Karamargin said.
Getting shots to residents here is not an issue, said Mark Evans, communications director for Pima County.
“Every single one of those doses is accounted for with an appointment, including both first and last shots,” he said. “Those aren’t sitting on a shelf just gathering dust. They’re accounted for.”
Evans said the sudden drop in doses means the county will now have to focus more on making sure second doses are accounted for and reducing the emphasis on first doses.
“We had hoped for an increasing vaccination supply as in the past we typically received 12,500 vaccines per week,” Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson wrote Thursday in a letter to U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, Ducey and U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva.
“This number had increased over the last two weeks to 29,850 vaccines, consistent with our increased vaccine delivery infrastructure as well as our priority population; however, this week we have been notified by the Arizona Department of Health Services that our allocation has now decreased to 17,850,” Bronson wrote.
“We have the vaccination infrastructure to significantly exceed this amount,” she said.
Pima County is poised to turn the Rillito Racetrack into its largest site for dispensing COVID-19 vaccination shots but that remains on hold.
The location, at 4502 N. First Ave., will be a drive-thru that could provide 5,000 vaccinations per day as a 24-hour site, like the one the state currently runs in Glendale. A second state-operated site opened Monday, Feb. 1 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Some residents from Pima and other Southern Arizona counties have traveled to the state site rather than wait for an appointment where they live.
Out of 604,500 doses of Pfizer vaccine allocated to the state, the state’s two drive-thru points of distribution, or PODs, in the state’s most populous county, Maricopa, have received 200,850 while Pima County has received 64,350.
Contact reporter Patty Machelor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 806-7754. On Twitter: @pattymachstar.