(Update February 3: The Arizona Department of Health Services said around 10:30 a.m. that all 21,000 appointments at Phoenix Municipal Stadium were booked within 39 minutes. The agency said that it is working to fix an error with the system that makes it appear as though appointments are still available.)
The Arizona Department of Health Service (DHS) is adding an additional 21,000 vaccination appointments at its recently opened Phoenix Municipal Stadium site.
Previous appointment slots for February had all been filled. The new appointments cover two weeks — from this Friday, February 5, to Thursday, February 18 — between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Sign-ups begin tomorrow, February 3, at 9 a.m.
To be eligible, you must fit into the state's expanded phase 1B prioritization. That includes educators, child care workers, law enforcement or protective services officers, and people aged 65 and older. Healthcare and emergency services workers from phase 1A are also still eligible.
The new appointments are the result of vaccines reallocated to the site by the state under an executive order from Governor Doug Ducey. Under the order, vaccine providers had to report detailed data about how much of their allocation they had used. Those who had only used 40 percent of vaccines had to submit a plan to increase their usage.
DHS and the governor's office said in a joint press release that the plans from counties and health care providers allowed them to free up the doses needed for the new appointments. Going forward, the agency will be prioritizing high-capacity sites — like those it operates — for the vaccine.
One of the criteria for prioritization will be vaccinating people between the ages of 65 and 74, which Maricopa County does not do currently, but the state does.
Maricopa County spokespeople did not immediately respond to an inquiry about what impact this might have on its sites. DHS spokesperson Steve Elliott said he would check on that and where the additional vaccines are coming from, and that he would provide additional information once he found out.
The Phoenix Municipal Stadium site was intended to serve as a second high-volume site, along with the State Farm Stadium site in Glendale. However, when it opened yesterday it was limited to doing 500 vaccinations a day instead of 12,000 due to a statewide lack of doses. If the new doses are spread out equally, they will allow the site to give an additional 1,500 doses a day.
As of today, 702,664 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Arizona and 109,617 people have received both doses needed. A Bloomberg tracker, known to lag in its data gathering, says that 65 percent of the state's allocated vaccines have been used, putting Arizona third-last in the nation for percentage of vaccines used.
Ducey has put pressure on vaccine providers to get more doses in arms and lobbied the federal government to boost the allocation of doses to Arizona.
“Arizona acted quickly to ensure these vaccine doses will go to Arizonans with urgency, rather than sitting in a freezer,” said Ducey in the press release. “With State Farm Stadium and our new Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Arizona has dramatically increased the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered each day. These vaccination sites have become a national model for other states and we will continue to look for ways to ensure Arizona’s vaccine doses are being used.”
Earlier in the day, Ducey bashed Maricopa County sites on Twitter for doses that had to be discarded due to technical errors or no-shows. He claimed that no doses had been wasted at state sites. Later in the day, DHS spokesperson Steve Elliott did confirm that some doses had be discarded at state sites due to technical or manufacturing issues, but none had expired due to lack of people to give it to.
As well as a shortage of vaccines, Arizonans have reported problems with the state's sign-up website. DHS says that they have tweaked the site to make it easier to find appointment.
To sign up yourself or an eligible family member for an appointment, go here. (See update above.)
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