PHOENIX — The state health department in a news conference Friday addressed the decline in COVID-19 vaccinations across the state. Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services said the state was seeing 60,000-80,000 inoculations per day when the vaccines were first available, but that figure is down to about 20,000 per day.
Christ, however, expressed optimism in the state's battle against the coronavirus with the FDA's recent authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in those 12 to 15 years old.
About 3.2 million Arizonans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to ADHS, which is about 44% of the state's eligible population. About 2.7 million are fully vaccinated.
Christ said 6.7 million doses have been allocated to Arizona, and 1,600 sites are administering vaccine including 975 pharmacies.
Statewide, 169 providers have ordered 40,000 doses to administer in their offices, Christ said.
Christ said the COVID-19 vaccine can now be administered by pediatricians along with other childhood vaccinations or flu shots. She said the move is an opportunity to reduce the potential for missed vaccinations as childhood routine vaccination numbers are down.
Boosters, when available, would also likely be administered by primary care doctors or pharmacies, similar to the flu shot, she said.
As the demand for the vaccine declines, Christ said state-run vaccine sites will be modifying hours but will remain operational.
Christ said fully vaccinating people is the urgency, and told those administrating doses to go ahead and vaccinate someone even if it means a new bottle is opened and some might be wasted.
After a brief nationwide pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Christ said many Arizonans are now seeking the single-dose vaccine.
"We're seeing less hesitancy," she said. "A lot of people prefer that one dose of vaccine, that could be driving that increased desire."
"We know that now we have to make it more convenient," Christ said about vaccine incentives.
The health department is looking at ways it can drive people to get vaccinated, Christ said. ADHS is partnering with Diamondback to offer a "vaccine day," she said. Details will be released next week on that event.
Christ added that ADHS will be transitioning mass vaccination sites into smaller community-based pods in different neighborhoods in an effort to bring doses directly to people.
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