ARIZONA — Arizona has submitted its coronavirus vaccination plan, and it includes who will get priority treatment when a vaccine becomes available.
While a vaccine is not yet ready for distribution, Arizona, like all states, was required to submit a plan to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"To inform this draft plan, ADHS has worked since April with a large and diverse group of stakeholders that includes county and tribal public health, outpatient healthcare providers and associations, inpatient healthcare providers and associations, payors, pharmacy and EMS stakeholders, and state and local emergency management agencies," Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ wrote in a blog post. "This partner involvement and feedback is so critical to making sure that Arizona has the best possible plan for vaccine distribution, and also includes the development and implementation of training and exercises to inform the state’s pandemic vaccine response."
Under the plan, health care workers would be given the first priority to receive a vaccine, followed by other essential workers. It is broken up into three phases:
1a: Health care personnel, among them pharmacists, pharmacy techs, school nurses, home health aides, health care support workers, practitioners and first responders.
1b: Other essential workers such as food industry workers, teachers and child care workers.
1b: People at increased risk for COVID-19 illness, including people age 65 and older.
2: People at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting the coronavirus, such as individuals attending colleges and universities and racial and ethnic minority groups.
2: People with limited access to routine vaccination services, including people with disabilities and people who don't speak English.
The general public would gain access in phase three when the vaccine is more widely available. The vaccine will likely require two shots, according to the plan.
The state's Vaccine Task Force was created in July and has since doubled in size, according to Christ. The plan was informed by the state's experience dealing with the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.
County health departments and tribal health partners will be responsible for distributing vaccines to providers. Providers will be required to use the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System if issues should arise after a patient is vaccinated.
Health departments across the state are also having conversations about storing the vaccines, which will need to be kept in freezing temperatures.
“The first vaccines that we think are going to come out are highly cold chain sensitive, which means we have to have freezing down to -70, perhaps -80 degrees,” Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen said during Tuesday’s city council meeting, according to outlet KOLD.
Until a vaccine is ready, Christ encouraged Arizonans to keep washing their hands, wearing a mask and keeping their distance from others.