It's the result of a statewide decision to add people in that age range to the 1B phase of vaccinations. Previously, only people 75 and older, as well as teachers, police officers, and healthcare workers were eligible under 1B.
As of Tuesday, every county in the state besides Pima and La Paz Counties was in phase 1B or higher — meaning if you're 65 or older and live in an Arizona county that's not Pima or La Paz, you're eligible.
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) said in a press release that it estimates the move will add an additional 750,000 Arizonans to the pool of people currently eligible to vaccinated.
The change comes as a result of advice from the Arizona Vaccine and Antiviral Prioritization Advisory Committee. Other states are issuing similar guidance as federal vaccine strategy changes to accelerate the use of all available vaccine doses.
The ADHS press release notes that eighty-five percent of COVID-19 deaths and more than half of hospitalizations in the state have been among those 65 and older.
Experts say that targeting vulnerable populations for vaccinations may help reduce pressure on hospitals and the number of deaths, but that it would take months before any substantive impact is seen.
“I’m a little worried that everybody is seduced by the fact that there are vaccines rolling out," Arizona State University Biodesign Institute executive director Joshua LaBaer told press earlier today. "Keep in mind the number of people getting vaccinated right now is tiny.”
It may still take some time for newly eligible people to receive their vaccinations. County vaccination sites have filled quickly, and the state said yesterday that its 24/7 vaccination site at State Farm Stadium in Glendale was booked through next Tuesday.
To that end, ADHS is opening a second state-run vaccination site February 1. The site will be at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, near Papago Park. It will not run around-the-clock. Registration will be available as of next Tuesday.
Currently, 170,900 people statewide have received their first dose of the vaccine and 17,300 have received the second dose needed to fully activate the vaccine's effects. Maricopa County ranks fifth in the state for the proportion of the population that has received vaccinations.
Information on how to register you or a family member for the various vaccination locations in Maricopa County is available here. Otherwise, you can call 1-844-542-8201 to make an appointment.