COVID-19 vaccine becoming more accessible in Arizona pharmacies

Access to the COVID-19 vaccine has expanded dramatically this week in Maricopa County as anyone 65 years old and over can sign up. They also have several more locations to choose from as pharmacies have received vaccine doses.

Anyone 65 and older can sign up for a vaccine appointment at nearly 200 different pharmacy locations in Maricopa County. This is part of the Federal Pharmacy Vaccine Program which allocated 20,000 doses to Arizona pharmacies.

Bethany Home Discount Pharmacy in Glendale is one of the nearly 200 pharmacies in Arizona now distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. Over the weekend, they distributed 100 doses and expect to vaccinate hundreds more over the next few weeks.

"We are getting 400 vaccines and we already booked all those vaccines ahead of time," says Sateesh Ananthu, owner of Bethany Home Discount Pharmacy.

Patients can go online or call the pharmacy directly to make appointments.

"Easy for the older community, people who don’t have internet access or computer facilities," Ananthu said. "The best way is to walk into the pharmacy because of the overwhelming phone calls."

Will Humble with the Arizona Public Health Association agrees it needs to be easier for people to get the vaccine brought to them. "Really getting the vaccine to the people, instead of bringing the people to the vaccine, which is how it’s been so far."

Fry’s, Safeway, Walgreens and CVS locations are distributing the COVID-19 vaccine in addition to locally-owned pharmacies.

The big shift in making appointments is bypassing the Arizona Department of Health Services' online scheduling system altogether.

"It’s an alternative route to getting vaccinated. Getting around the state computer system, and it’s into your community," Humble said.

Local pharmacies say shipments of the vaccine scheduled to be delivered this week have been delayed because of the severe winter weather in the central and eastern part of the country, therefore some appointments this week may have to be postponed.

Click here for a list of COVID-19 vaccine locations