Around the country, states are getting ready to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Here are some important things you need to know about the vaccine in Arizona.
On December 11th, the Food and Drug Administration allowed an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the COVID-19 vaccine created by Pfizer. With this final step achieved in approval and review, the distribution of the vaccine into communities has already started.
In Maricopa County, Public Health is already hard at work arranging for the vaccine to be administered as soon as possible. This is a big step forward in the fight against COVID-19, and it’s sensible to have some questions about what the use of the vaccine looks like. Here’s what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Safety is a top priority.
Safety is a top priority in delivering the vaccine in the United States. The U.S. has a history of supplying the safest vaccines possible, along with a well-established vaccine safety system, which is constantly being updated and improved as quickly as new information arises. One notable new tool is called v-safe, a smartphone-based health checker for those who have already received the vaccine.
On top of reviews conducted by the FDA and CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a multidisciplinary team created by ADHS that includes Valleywise Health will be reviewing data on the vaccine to ensure its quality and effectiveness. Clinical trials, which happen before licensing, and post-licensure safety studies that happen after are also key aspects of this process, and help ensure the wellbeing of the vaccine’s recipient.
All of these elements come together to create the safest possible vaccine and vaccination procedures in the United States and in the state of Arizona.
- Cost is not an issue.
The COVID-19 vaccine will be provided free of charge, no matter your insurance status. In Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order ensuring that those living in the state can receive the vaccine without cost while the public health emergency declaration is still in effect.
- The vaccine will be made available in phases recommended by the CDC.
The vaccine will be administered based off of the phased approach recommended by the CDC. This approach is catered towards the limited supply of the vaccine in its early days, and provides directions on which most at risk groups will be prioritized. The first population of the first phase, Phase 1A, includes healthcare workers and residents in long-term care facilities. Phases 1B and 1C include teachers and childcare workers, law enforcement, essential service workers, adults over the age of 65 and those with high risk medical conditions, among other select groups. Everyone will be eligible for the vaccine with time.
- The vaccine will be administered at 5 key sites within the county.
In an effort to maximize resources, and to ensure that healthcare workers throughout the county receive the vaccine equitably, Maricopa County has asked for help from local healthcare systems and municipalities in operating five drive-through Point of Dispensing (POD) sites across the county (northwest, southwest, central, northeast, and southeast). It’s important to note that these sites are not currently open to the public, and that vaccines will be administered by appointment only.
- The vaccination process will begin very soon.
Maricopa County is planning to begin vaccinating healthcare workers at these select sites by December 17th, or within 48 hours of the vaccine’s arrival. The Maricopa County COVID-19 webpage is a great resource for tracking how many vaccine sites are open, how many doses have been given, and also provides more details on the phases, their eligibility, and pre-screening processes.
While it’s great news that Arizona is gearing up to distribute the vaccine, it’s important to remember that in these early stages, safety precautions such as wearing a mask, washing your hands often, and remaining six feet apart are still valuable steps to protecting the community. While experts are still learning more about the protection provided by the COVID-19 vaccine in real life conditions, it’s important to continue to use all available resources to further help us halt the pandemic. For more information, head over to the Vallyewise Health COVID-19 Information page.