Arizona health officials talk availability of second COVID-19 vaccine doses

As of Jan. 16, Arizona ranks the highest in the country for weekly COVID-19 cases and all eyes are on the vaccine rollout, which continues to be slower than initially expected.

The state announced earlier this week that it would be expanding Phase 1B of the vaccine distribution to include people of ages 65 to 74.

"The bottom line is there are a lot of people in category 1B. Way more people than we have vaccine available," said Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association.

He adds, "The more people you add, the less likely you will be able to get those people scheduled for follow ups for the second vaccine."

He says there were already about one million people in phase 1B, which means the state would have needed about two million doses. Then you factor in the follow-up booster shot, which needs to be given just three to four weeks later.

Now factoring in the 65 years and older population, that means an additional 250,000 people are added to the mix.

"You are adding 250,000 to the additional million. It just creates saturation within that category," Humble said.

The director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, Dr. Cara Christ, said in a press conference this week, that the state is allocating vaccines to local partners, and taking into consideration the need for a second dose when making any changes.

"We have received our doses so we can continue to vaccinate those who’ve already received the first dose and had that 21 or 28 day waiting period," Christ said.

If you get the first shot and can't get an appointment for the second shot, you will still have some degree of protection, Humble says, but nowhere near as much protection as if you were to get both.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccines in Arizona, visit this link.

MAP: Arizona Coronavirus cases by zip code