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University of Arizona vaccination site opens registration for those 55 and older
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University of Arizona vaccination site opens registration for those 55 and older

The drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination site. The county opened registration but cautioned that appointments will become open only as more vaccine becomes available.

The day after Pima County COVID-19 vaccination sites started taking registrations for those 55 and older, the state-run site at University of Arizona is doing the same.

Arizona and county residents ages 55-plus can begin registering online at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 13 for UA appointments that could be available as soon as Monday, March 15.

Pima County on Friday also expanded vaccine eligibility to the younger age group, as well as to front-line essential workers who are in regular, close contact with co-workers, the public or both.

The county’s front-line essential workers who are ages 55 and older are asked to get their vaccinations at the UA site.

During a March 11 update, Pima County Public Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen discussed the county's transition into the next phase of coronavirus vaccine distribution, which will now be available for people over the age of 55 as well as some high-risk essential workers

About a dozen people contacted the Arizona Daily Star through emails or phone calls Friday, perplexed about why there were no county appointments available after these new groups were added.

The county opened registration but cautioned that appointments will become open only as more vaccine becomes available. Currently, most new appointments set for county sites — which include Tucson Medical Center and Kino Stadium — will be scheduled for April.

The county changed to ages 55-plus this week in order to stay aligned with what the state and pharmacies are doing, said Mark Evans, communications director for Pima County.

“The more varied the rules are, the more confusing it is for the public,” he said.

However, Evans said since vaccine supply is still limited, appointments before the middle of April remain difficult to come by.

“Vaccine supplies have been slowly increasing week to week and if that continues, the process will speed up and the frustration level will lower,” he said. “At the rate we’re going, we’ll have more than 400,000 doses by the end of this month and more than 200,000 (people) fully vaccinated.”

Before this week’s change, Pima County appointments had been open to people 65 and older.

Vaccinations at the UA site and county-run sites will continue for groups previously listed under Phase 1A and Prioritized Phase 1B including:

  • Health-care workers and health-care support workers;
  • Emergency medical services workers;
  • Long-term care facility staff and residents;
  • Educators and child-care workers;
  • Protective service workers such as police and firefighters.

Front-line essential workers can now register for the UA state site if they are over 55 or with a county site if they are under age 55. This includes people who work in one of the following industries:

  • Food and agriculture;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Grocery or convenience stores and carnicerias;
  • Restaurants and bars;
  • The U.S. Postal Service;
  • Public transit such as buses, light rail, Uber, Lyft and taxi services;
  • State and local government workers.

Contact reporter Patty Machelor at pmachelor@tucson.com or 806-7754. On Twitter: @pattymachstar


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