PHOENIX - Officials with the Arizona Department of Health Services say an estimated 750,000 or more Arizonans will be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination, due to updated guidance.
In the statement, AZDHS officials say Arizonans 65 and older will be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination. Beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Jan. 19, those over the age of 65 will be able to register for vaccination in counties that are currently vaccinating those in the Phase 1B group of vaccination.
In Maricopa County, appointments can be made at two state-run sites -- State Farm Stadium and Phoenix Municipal Stadium, a new site near Priest and Van Buren which will be open during daylight hours starting February 1.
Officials say the updated guidance is intended to protect those most at risk for severe outcomes due to COVID-19.
As of Jan. 18, more than 281,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered to about 244,000 Arizonans, including 32,000 who have received both doses.
Expert weighs in on new vaccine guidance
"We realize that the single greatest risk factor for death is age," said Dr. Frank Loveccho. "As you get older, you are more likely to die from COVID-19."
Dr. Frank Lovecchio says that one of the reasons he believes AZDHS made this decision is because there is a large amount of unused vaccine, with many saved for second doses.
Nationwide, Dr. Lovecchio says only 1/3 of the distributed vaccines have been used.
"So, 2/3s are not being used. They are in a freezer somewhere. If they are in a freezer, they really are not doing anyone any good," said Dr. Lovecchio. "If I get the first dose and am waiting for a second dose, I don’t want you to keep that in a freezer for three weeks. In three weeks we’ll have that replenished."
Those now eligible for vaccine speak out
As news spread of the expanded eligibility, people who are now eligible say they have been waiting for the vaccine for a long time.
"I just feel I have a whole lot more to give to my daughter my grandson and the world," said 68-year-old Grant Chaney.
Chaney and his neighbor, Val Avery, are now eligible for the vaccine.
"I have a beautiful daughter grandson that is six years old, and I would like to be able to see him, watch him grow up," said Chaney.
Chaney and Avery say they plan to get that vaccine together as soon as possible.
"This virus is pretty dangerous, so I am gonna do all I can within law to get vaccinated," said Avery.
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Continuing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic:
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