PHOENIX - A state committee of public health experts decided that Arizonans 75 and older should be among those prioritized in the second phase of distribution of vaccinations against COVID-19, Gov. Doug Ducey's office announced Dec. 28.
Older Arizonans are more likely to experience severe COVID-19 complications and be hospitalized than younger individuals and the committee's decision Monday to prioritize those people is aligned with updated recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ducey's office said in a statement.
The prioritization of people 75 and older means those people most at risk will get vaccinated sooner, both protecting them and "relieving the strain on our hardworking health care professionals," Ducey said in the statement.
Arizona Public Health Association Director Will Humble says the data backs up the decision.
"I think it's a really good move. If you look at the evidence in terms of having a really bad outcome and dying, but also the risk of being hospitalized for a long time, the primary risk factor is age."
The first phase of groups prioritized for vaccinations includes front-line health care providers, emergency medical service workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities. Vaccinations of those groups are underway.
Pima County's website indicated they had more than 44,500 doses of the vaccine but had distributed just under 10,000 shots as of Sunday.
Maricopa County had given just over 29,500 doses as of Tuesday, nearly 5,000 more than yesterday.
HonorHealth is running one of the bigger vaccine sites in north Phoenix.
"We've been able to vaccinate approximately 1,300 individuals a day for the first round. It's a two-part series. Those persons will have to come back to get their second dose starting at the end of next week," said Dr. Stephanie Jackson with HonorHealth.
Along with people 75 and older, group recommendations for prioritization in the second phase include teachers, child care providers, law enforcement personnel and corrections workers.
The state anticipates that vaccinations of the second-phase groups will begin by late January but some counties may begin earlier, the statement said.
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
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Arizona COVID-19 resources, FAQ: azdhs.gov/coronavirus
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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.
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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