Arizona doctors, clinics can order COVID-19 vaccine starting May 3

Numerous doctors’ offices and clinics in Arizona will be able to directly obtain COVID-19 vaccine starting next week, state health officials said Friday.

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, announced eligible physicians and local health care providers will no longer have to rely on allocations from their county public health department.

This means nearly 1,200 providers registered with the state can order up to 200 doses within a two-week period from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They will receive the Moderna vaccine because it has less complex storage requirements. The hope is that being able to go to a primary care doctor will make getting vaccinated less challenging, Christ said.

MORE: How to sign up and schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment

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"From the beginning, we wanted to ensure Arizonans could receive the vaccine in locations they normally receive their health care ‒ including their primary care providers’ offices, clinics, and pharmacies," Christ said.

State officials are expecting 30,000 doses overall to be available for these smaller providers to order.

MORE: Experts say COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-15 could be available by early May 

Overall, more than 2.9 million people, or around 40% of Arizona’s population, have had at least one vaccine shot, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard. More than 2.2 million have been fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the state reported Friday another 844 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 19 deaths.

The latest virus numbers bring the pandemic totals to 862,497 cases and 17,324 deaths.

Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers

The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19-related reasons dipped slightly to 618. Of those, 189 remain in the ICU.

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Monitor your health daily

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.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.

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