Friday, March 5, 2021
With a reminder that Thursday marked a year since the first COVID test came back positive in Pima County and that more than 110,000 people have tested positive since then, Pima County Health Department Director Dr. Theresa Cullen said she is looking to the future as county officials expect to hit the goal of 300,000 vaccinations before the end of March.
But whether they can reach that goal depends on how many vaccine doses arrive in Pima County from the state. As of March 4, 283,011 vaccines were administered in Pima County and Cullen said that if the county receives enough doses, it could hit the 300,000 mark sometime next week.
The county continues to vaccinate those 65 and older and had almost half of that population vaccinated a few days ago. The state is asking Pima County to have 55% of people 65+ vaccinated with the first dose by March 9, which would depend on how many first appointments are opened up at the state POD, Cullen said.
After Banner Health officials announced they would end vaccinations at Banner North and consolidate all vaccinations at Banner South, Cullen said the consolidation of the sites was in the works but it was with the hope that the Kino Sports Complex site would be able to increase appointments. The transition was based on the supply of Moderna vaccine.
The county has received 23,000 doses of Moderna, which they have yet to allot and continue to have discussions with TMC, TCC and Banner to evaluate their needs, Cullen said.
“We hoped the supply chain would loosen up,” Cullen said. “We have every indication that it will by the end of this month.”
The county has also received 8,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which will be the only allocation for the next three to four weeks, Cullen said.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be distributed to federally qualified health centers and also support the county’s pop-ups, but only in communities they had not previously vaccinated, as those who received Pfizer or Moderna will need a second shot of the same vaccine.
“We've been able to extend a hand into community and community members that we may not have touched before, that we may not have been able to develop trust with, from a community perspective,” said Cullen.
In Pima County, more than 2,200 people have died after contracting the virus; statewide, that number has topped 16,000 in Arizona.
“Everybody knows somebody,” said Cullen tearfully. “It's in their family or their grandma, or their best friend who has passed or is still suffering from the disease.”