Arizonans Over 65 Will Get Access To Coronavirus Vaccines Earlier

Lindsay Walker

ARIZONA — Arizona is opening up coronavirus vaccination to anyone 65 or older after federal recommendations that states expand the rollout.

Starting Tuesday, Arizona residents in that age group will be able to register for a vaccine starting at 9 a.m. in several counties vaccinating in prioritized Phase 1B and at the state's two mass sites in Phoenix.

Arizona's Vaccine and Antiviral Prioritization Advisory Committee met on Wednesday to approve the new federal guidelines. The new guidance brought more doses to the state and will add another 750,000 people to the state's pool of eligibility. Previously, Arizonans over 75 had been added to this phase of the vaccination plan.

"This critical update provides more protection for our most vulnerable,” Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement. “Vaccinating older Arizonans against COVID-19 sooner also will help relieve the strain on our healthcare system.”

Approximately 85 percent of Arizona's coronavirus deaths have been from people 65 and older, according to the Arizona Department of Heath Services.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, in discussing the new federal guidelines, that states’ eligibility restrictions “have obstructed speed and accessibility of administration” of the vaccine.

A 24/7 site at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, and a new mass vaccination site at Phoenix Municipal Stadium to Feb. 1, will aid the state in rolling the vaccine out to more Arizonans. The health department said that State Farm Stadium's January appointments are fully booked Information about all vaccination sites across Arizona can be found online.

Nearly 190,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered to almost 171,000 Arizonans, including 17,000 who have received both doses.

In addition to residents over the age of 65, this priority phase also includes law enforcement and educators.

“As more vaccine reaches Arizona, we will continue refining our plan to maximize the benefits of this still-limited resource,” Dr. Cara Christ, director Arizona Department of Health Services, said. “One of our priorities is supporting the health and well-being of Arizonans by getting these vaccines into the community as widely and efficiently as possible.”

Both the Maricopa County and Pima County Health Departments have said they will continue vaccinating those 75 and older at their countywide vaccination sites while they review the new federal guidelines.

This article originally appeared on the Across Arizona Patch