Thursday, December 17, 2020

First COVID Vaccines Administered in Pima County

Posted By on Thu, Dec 17, 2020 at 12:38 PM

click to enlarge JEFF GARDNER
Jeff Gardner

On Thursday, Dec. 17, Banner University Medical Center and Tucson Medical Center began the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations in Pima County. While a small number of test vaccinations were injected earlier this week, today marks the official beginning of the Pima County Health Department’s three-phase plan, beginning with frontline workers.

At Banner University’s northside campus, Iris Delfakis, a nurse at the University of Arizona’s Cancer Center, volunteered to receive the first injection.

click to enlarge Iris Delfakis receives the first COVID vaccine at Banner UMC.
Iris Delfakis receives the first COVID vaccine at Banner UMC.

“I’m all for it,” Delfakis said. “I know there are some against the vaccine, but I think everyone should get it. We’ve never seen something like COVID in our lifetimes.”

According to Rebecca Ruiz-McGill, information specialist for Banner UMC, the medical center needs to “walk before we run,” with vaccine administrations. Because COVID-19 testing involves similar logistics, Banner expects its vaccine process to be in full order within a week or two. By the end of the month, they expect to be administering more than 100 vaccines per day.

Banner’s vaccine station was in its parking garage and saw several hospital staff in its first hour. Among the staff was Dr. Melissa Zukowski, who works in Banner's Department of Emergency Medicine and was prioritized for vaccination because she works in a COVID unit. Those who receive their vaccine will need to receive a second booster injection three weeks after their first.



“I’m emotional with joy. It’s been such a long time we’ve waited for this vaccine,” said Zukowski, who received the injection while holding her daughter’s hand. “To the skeptics who still don’t think this is real – it’s very real. We’ve been going non-stop. People are sick, and people are dying . . . There’s a long road ahead, but this is a glimmer of light.”

The three-stage vaccine plan is as follows:

  • Phase 1 runs from this month through the spring and includes three subcategories.
  • 1A includes healthcare workers and long-term care staff and residents.
  • 2A includes adults in congregate settings, healthcare workers not in 1A, law enforcement, K-12 and college educators, childcare workers, and essential industry workers.
  • 1C includes adults older than 65 and high-risk adults.
  • Phase 2 runs from Spring 2021 through Summer 2021 and includes any remaining Phase 1 groups, additional high-risk populations, and the general population.
  • Phase 3 runs beyond Summer 2021 and includes any remaining populations.

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