When Arizona expanded its age eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine to anyone over the age of 16 Monday, it was unclear about what that would mean for county-run sites across the Valley.
According to a spokesperson for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, the expanded eligibility is coming to its sites now, too.
“To streamline operations and communication, Maricopa County will adopt the same prioritization as the state of Arizona and open vaccine appointments to all residents aged 18 and older for those receiving the Moderna and Janssen vaccine and 16 and older for the those receiving the Pfizer vaccine, per the vaccine FDA Emergency Use Authorizations,” said Ron Coleman, a department spokesman.
The Arizona Department of Health said in a news release the age change was applicable at all three state-run vaccination sites in Phoenix, one in Yuma and one in Tucson starting with appointments made on Wednesday.
That increased eligibility for Maricopa County sites will begin on Wednesday at 8 a.m., Mr. Coleman continued. Residents over the age of 18 will have access to Moderna and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines, while anyone 16 and older will be able to receive the Pfizer vaccine, according to the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorizations.
Most county sites until now have been handing out doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which are also distributed at the state-run sites.
In an ADHS news release, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said the state is increasing its vaccine access because of demand and anticipated supply from the federal government.
“Our goal has been and remains to get vaccine into the community as quickly, widely and equitably as possible,” said Gov. Ducey. “Given a thorough review of vaccination data, anticipated vaccine supply, and current demand among prioritized groups, now is the time to take this critical next step.”
To date, Arizona has administered 2,940,466 doses of COVID-19 vaccine statewide and approximately 1,220,197 Arizonans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Arizona has taken on an age-first approach for much of its vaccine rollout; prior to this week, state-run and most county sites had vaccinated anyone over the age of 55, plus frontline essential workers. Now, it’s following in the footsteps of Alaska and Missouri, which both offer vaccines to residents over 16.
“We anticipate more and more vaccine reaching Arizona heading into April, making it possible now to expand prioritization,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “We have been flexible and nimble throughout, while expanding the availability of state sites to vaccinate large numbers of people rapidly.”
ADHS opens appointments online every Friday at 11 a.m. for its mass vaccination sites. Find an appointment in Maricopa County, including at local pharmacies, on the health department website. Anyone without a computer or who needs extra assistance can call 1-844-542-8201.