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University of Arizona: Big shipment of COVID-19 vaccine headed to Tucson this week
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University of Arizona: Big shipment of COVID-19 vaccine headed to Tucson this week

The University of Arizona and Pima County are scheduled to receive 16,380 and 24,000 vaccine doses respectively this week. Those are the biggest COVID-19 vaccine allocations from the state so far, UA President Robert C. Robbins said Monday in a news briefing.

The University of Arizona and Pima County expect to vaccinate more people this week than any week prior, UA officials said.

The UA and the county are scheduled to receive 16,380 and 24,000 vaccine doses, respectively, this week, the most doses of COVID-19 vaccines the state has given them to date, UA President Robert C. Robbins said Monday in a news briefing.

The university’s vaccine pod is running from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and once appointments are filled for this week on the registration website,, new slots will open for next week, Robbins said.

Watch: Vaccine equity pits rural against urban America

The U.S. vaccine campaign has heightened tensions between rural and urban America, where from Oregon to Tennessee to upstate New York complaints are surfacing of a real — or perceived — inequity in vaccine allocation.

The UA is vaccinating people in the priority phase 1B, which includes education and child care workers, public safety workers, anyone 65 and older and anyone in phase 1A who has not been vaccinated yet.

The university is still working out some problems on the website that make it seem as though appointments are filled through the end of the year, Robbins said. People should keep checking back to the website later in the week to see if appointments are available for the following week.

Robbins said they don’t know yet when the university’s vaccine pod will start operating 24/7, because they are not receiving enough vaccines from the state to do that yet.

“It is not a demand problem this is a supply problem,” he said, adding that once they get enough vaccines the university is ready to stay open 24 hours.

The UA has vaccinated more than 35,000 people, and 176,000 people in Pima County have received at least the first dose of the vaccine, Robbins said.

Dr. Richard Carmona, leader of the UA’s reentry task force, said the university’s Arizona Center of Rural Health team is preparing to help distribute vaccines to rural counties and communities outside of Tucson. However, direction from the state and a higher vaccine allocation is needed to do so, he says.

Carmona said the idea that the UA is taking vaccine doses from the county when it became a state-run pod is wrong.

“I can tell you that we were upfront in these discussions, that we want more vaccines but not at the cost of taking from somebody else,” Carmona said. “Because they need their vaccines as well.”

The university and the county have also seen a decrease in cases and transmissibility in recent weeks, Carmona said.

In the past 10 days, the UA reported 24 positive COVID cases out of 14,658 tests administered.

Despite the decrease in positive cases, the university’s Campus Area Response Team, which works with Tucson police and other city departments to respond to complaints about large gatherings, dealt with 10 gatherings last week, an increase from two a week earlier.

To keep the numbers heading in the right direction, students need to continue to social distance, Carmona said.

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