As Pima County struggles with a reduced vaccine supply this week, MHC Healthcare is one of the community health centers cutting back on vaccines as the county rations which vaccination centers receive a supply.
While MHC Healthcare previously scheduled appointments for the 70+ population in the Marana and Oro Valley areas, all online registrations are now booked and the center is only supplying second doses for those who already received their first COVID-19 vaccine, according to Director of Marketing and Communications Kimberly Mayfield.
MHC has received 4,200 total doses and administered 3,823 as of Feb. 15. Of the delivered doses, 2,819 went to those 70 and older, while 1,004 went to MHC healthcare workers. The community health center is using the Moderna vaccine.
Last week, the county's vaccine supply was decreased to 17,850—a 40% reduction from the previous week. This week, the doses were cut down to 16,300 doses of Moderna.
The state is now taking control of all Pfizer allocations, and according to County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen, the county has no insight into what the Pfizer allotment for this week was.
In addition to the 16,300 Moderna and an unknown number of Pfizer doses to be distributed across the county’s vaccination centers, the state allocated the new UA state-run POD
2,000 doses of Moderna.
According to Pima County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia, the significant decrease in the county’s vaccine allocation cut off additional vaccine supply to its community health centers.
“One of the things, for instance, that was impacted was none of our federally qualified health center partners, Marana, Desert Senita, United Community Health Center in the rural areas and El Rio in the central core—none of them got new vaccine for new vaccinations,” Garica said. “That was a trade-off that we had to make because of the reduction in the total number of vaccines that we were allowed to allocate.”
While the community health centers aren’t receiving new doses, Garcia said the county is providing the second doses needed for one to receive complete immunization.
“All our second doses are being provided for, are being planned for. Those are not at all threatened. What worries me is the first dose,” he said. “Given that the amount of stock that we get is finite, what it means is that there may be fewer first dose appointments until the vaccine availability loosens up.”
If vaccine supply from the state does increase, Garcia believes the health centers like MHC will be back on track to serve the communities on the periphery of the county they’re intended to vaccinate.
“As soon as the vaccine supply loosens up, these folks are ready to give out thousands of vaccines. What we're trying to do at this point is to really concentrate on making sure that that capacity is there for when the spigot opens up,” Garcia said. “Understanding that we need to do a fair amount of outreach and education, but by the same token, we have a limited number of appointments. We can't create appointments when we don't have vaccine supply. That will continue to be one of the things that is going to be a challenge for us.”