Friday, March 19, 2021

Arizona Third in Nation for Vaccination Coverage of Vulnerable Communities; Pima County To Continue Testing Centers

Posted By on Fri, Mar 19, 2021 at 12:09 PM

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Arizona ranks No. 3 in vaccination coverage for high-vulnerability counties as determined by the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) in a report released earlier this week by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The index is a nationally accepted framework, using 15 indicators, including metrics for socioeconomic status, age and disability status, and minority status and language, to assess the social vulnerability of counties in the U.S.

The CDC report found most states had higher vaccination in low-vulnerability counties, but Arizona and Montana showed higher vaccination in high-vulnerability counties.

Since Feb. 20, Pima County has partnered with community organizations, like St. Johns Church and Rising Star Baptist Church, to vaccinate people through mobile clinics.

Mobile clinics have administered 4,329 vaccinations to vulnerable communities as of March 7, according to a March 12 report by County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry.

Expanded Vaccine Eligibility to At-Home Long Term Care Adults

On Monday, the Pima County Health Department expanded vaccination eligibility for those living with disabilities and high-risk medical conditions who are receiving at-home long-term care services. The decision came after the Arizona Development Disability Network suggested the change in February.

The health department said vaccination sites have been notified, but UA POD determines eligibility by age.

Those eligible will not have to provide proof of their disability or medical condition but would have to provide some proof of at-home, long-term care services such as a doctor’s letter, home care or home health agency, or documentation from SSI or long-term care insurance provider.

Cullen said Individuals in this priority group may need at-home vaccinations and can go to PCHD’s main registration system to apply. Those without internet access can call 520-222-0119.

Pima County Continues Testing Effort

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve $33 million in COVID-testing at the board meeting on Tuesday. This decision comes after discussions on ending the testing program due to lack of funding.

Huckelberry said the county will be reimbursed for the testing through the American Rescue Plan Act, which he said would arrive in 60 days.

He said the state denied the county's request for reimbursement of $7.6 million for testing conducted Dec. 21 - Jan. 15. He said county officials have asked the CDC to review their request.

District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy was the lone dissenting vote as he said he was unsure the county would receive reimbursement.

In a March 12 memo, Huckelberry said COVID-testing has decreased from 3,000 tests per day at the height of the pandemic to about 375 tests per day in March. Despite the decrease, Huckelberry said free COVID-19 testing remains a priority in Pima County.

District 5 Supervisor Adelita Grijalva agreed.

“It’s so important and critical for our community to have access to testing and quick testing, because the variants continue to change and there’s still a lot of people in our community that are opting not to or still don’t have access to a vaccine.”

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