PHOENIX - On Jan. 1, officials with the Arizona Department of Health Services provided an update on the ongoing efforts to vaccinate Arizonans against COVID-19, almost a year after the pandemic disrupted life for Arizonans and others around the world in major ways.
In an e-mail, officials with AZDHS say about 80,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered so far, since vaccination efforts began. These doses were administered to healthcare workers, as well as residents and staff at long-term care facilities.
"With over 70 vaccination sites operating, and more planned for the next week across the state, the pace will continue to increase," officials wrote in the e-mail.
In the same e-mail, officials say Phase 1B of vaccine distribution, which includes teachers, childcare staff, protective services workers, and individuals 75 and older that are prioritized for the first doses, is expected to begin in most counties by late January.
"As more vaccine is made available to larger groups, distribution will be expanded to hundreds of vaccination providers registered by ADHS, with many more in the pipeline," read a portion of the statement.
On Dec. 30, 2020, Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order that calls for a rapid expansion of vaccine access by "streamlining distribution throughout Arizona and establishing additional vaccination sites."
"Rather than each county having their own implementation plans, the order directs the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to implement a state-directed allocation model to ensure a uniform approach to the vaccination of high-risk and high-priority Arizonans," read a news release from the governor's office, in part.
Doctor: Vaccination campaign will take some time
"I can’t remember when there’s ever been a bigger undertaking in my experience in medicine," said Dr. Frank Lovecchio, an emergency physician at Valleywise Health.
Nationally, more than 3 million doses have been administered, a far cry from the estimated 20 million people health experts had hoped to have vaccinated by the end of 2020.
"Closer to 1/10 that you know it’s OK," said Lovecchio. "I think they can gear up now post-holiday."
Dr. Loveccio says he thinks those initial projections were a bit too hopeful, especially given all the precautions taken and the staff needed to administer the vaccine, which has to be stored in freezers and then defrosted before use.
"Then, you have to mix it with saline, and then after you do all of that, you only have three hours to administer it, so it is a huge undertaking," said Lovecchio.
Lovecchio says with the way things are going, he is hopeful that the process will speed up very soon, and he says people have to realize this is not an overnight solution.
"Remember that as you go faster, you always gotta watch for safety, and we always are more concerned with patient safety," said Lovecchio.
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Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu.
Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.
CDC Website for COVID-19
https://espanol.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html (In Spanish/En Español)
AZDHS Website for COVID-19