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ARIZONA — Exactly one year after Arizona recorded its first coronavirus case, the state's governor has issued new rules to speed up its vaccination plan and bring the pandemic to a swift end.
“The COVID-19 vaccination is our best shot at returning to life as it should be. Over the last two weeks, the COVID-19 vaccination site at State Farm Stadium has become a national model for vaccine administration,” Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement Tuesday. “With adequate vaccine doses, we can build on this success, both at our existing vaccination sites, and at additional sites across the state. This advisory will provide transparency in the pace of vaccination administration, and allow us to direct vaccine doses to where they will be most rapidly distributed.”
The new advisory will allow the state to reallocate unused doses to vaccination sites that can adminster them rapidly. Another rule will require health care providers to report data to the Arizona Department of Health Services so it can track the pace of vaccination across the state.
#COVID19 Vaccine Update: Today Governor @DougDucey issued an advisory to accelerate the statewide distribution of the vaccine and move doses to where they can be rapidly administered. Visit https://t.co/6wcREYdEeJ for details. #RollUpYourSleeve pic.twitter.com/AzKnBkmKCn
— AZ Dept of Health (@AZDHS) January 26, 2021
ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ told the Arizona Republic that some sites are not using all of their doses and many are not reporting their data to the state, leading to a slower vaccine rollout than the health department would like.
"It's going to require certain providers that have 40 percent or more of their doses being reported as unused, they are going to have to submit a plan to the department that tells us how they are going to significantly increase and use that vaccine within the next seven days," Christ
Ducey also called on the federal government to do its part and send additional doses to Arizona.
They need to prioritize quicker distribution of the vaccine to the states, so we can get the vaccine out of freezers, off of shelves, and into the arms of Arizonans,” the governor said.
As of Tuesday, 486,338 vaccinations have been administered statewide. That averages out to approximately 9,708 vaccines per day.
Arizona's two state vaccination sites — one at State Farm Stadium and one at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, which will launch Feb. 1 — are fully booked through February. The two sites are currently vaccinating adults over the age of 65, teachers and first responders; most counties are still focusing on adults over the age of 75.
The Tuesday advisory said that the sites are operating at partial capacity due to a limited number of doses. The state said that the federal government denied a request by ADHS last week to send an additional 300,000 doses to Arizona. As additional vaccine doses are secured, the health department hopes to expand its mass vaccination sites to northern, central, and western parts of the state.
The announcement came as Arizona marked on year since its first confirmed coronavirus case. The state reported 4,748 new cases and 209 additional deaths Tuesday.