County extending COVID-19 vaccine to all 65 and older effective Feb. 15

Maricopa County is opening COVID-19 vaccination shots to those 65 and older effective Feb. 15. –Graham Ruttan photo

South Tempe and West Chandler residents for six weeks were confused and frustrated at best and downright angry at worst over the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s been getting better.

In the past two weeks, the vaccine supply in Maricopa County has increased slightly and the ability to book an appointment to receive a shot has improved on upgraded health department websites.

Thursday brought still more good news: With more than 44 percent of county residents 75 and older now having received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, Maricopa County will expand vaccine eligibility to adults 65 and older at all vaccine locations starting Monday, Feb. 15.

“The data shows that our decision to provide older adults a little extra time to access vaccine has proven successful and the timing is now right to invite our residents 65 and older to step up and get vaccinated,” said Marcy Flanagan, director of Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

The decision is in alignment with the federal pharmacy vaccine program scheduled to begin this week, which will bring vaccine to 182 pharmacies in Maricopa County. MCDPH estimates there are nearly 400,000 adults ages 65-74 eligible for the vaccine in Maricopa County.

In addition, the public now can review Maricopa County vaccination data on their own on a newly launched dashboard available at Maricopa.gov/COVID19vaccinedata.

The dashboard shows:

  • Almost 430,000, or 12 percent, of Maricopa County residents have been COVID-19 vaccinated with at least one dose.
  • More than 120,000 Maricopa County residents have been fully vaccinated with two doses.
  • About half of those vaccinated in Maricopa County are 65 years or older.

The county said that its health department is focused on ensuring equitable access to the vaccine across racial and socio-economic levels. Working with partners, MCDPH is making vaccine vaccine appointments available when and where they are convenient for recipients.

Those efforts include:

  • Setting up five regional drive-through sites across the county, then adding a sixth, more centrally-located, site close to public transit with a walk-through option for those who do not have their own vehicles.
  • Allocating vaccine doses to pharmacies across the county so people can get their shots at locations near them where they may get care or medications already.
  • Launching neighborhood pop-up vaccination events, which have short-term availability intended to bridge gaps in accessibility, by bringing vaccine to people who are eligible. These include rural parts of the county as well as dense areas.

As supply allows, MCDPH said it will continue to make vaccine available through more and varied sites to address differing needs.

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