GILA COUNTY, Ariz. - As many Arizona counties are still vaccinating the very old or some essential workers, one county to the east of Phoenix is already vaccinating the general population.
So far in Gila County, about 16,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccination have been administered, and about 38% of the population is now vaccinated.
The county's Deputy Director of Public Health, Josh Beck, says with the Johnson & Johnson vaccination soon making its way to Arizona, he's hoping that number goes up.
Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers
"I think having the option, those extra options are going to help get from that 40%, 50% to 60% to 70% or higher."
Counties have the option to determine who the essential workers would be to get the shot next. Pinal County has been vaccinating all essential workers and will vaccinate those with high-risk medical conditions next.
In Coconino County, all of those falling under the essential workers category listed by the state can be vaccinated.
Gila County is already in phase two and opened the vaccinations up to the general public about a week ago. The decision to allow the general population to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is based on the county’s vaccination POD numbers.
"We opened it up to 65 and older, and it was a 2,000 person POD and we didn’t quite have enough people to register for that, so at that point, we opened up the county - at least that POD - to anyone in the general population for that weekend," said Beck.
In a few weeks, it will be even easier for those living in the county to get a vaccine.
"As soon as we conclude our second dose drive-thru clinics, which is in about 30 days, we’ll be transitioning to just going into any of our healthcare partners for any resident who wants a shot," said Michael O'Driscoll, Gila County's Director of Health and Emergency Management.
Only residents of Gila County can get vaccinated by the county. The state-run PODs are the only locations that offer vaccination to anyone who qualifies, regardless of where they live.
For information and assistance regarding COVID-19 questions, contact the Gila County Call center: 928-910-4009 or head to https://www.gilacountyaz.gov.
The state-run sites are the only locations to offer the vaccination to anyone who qualifies despite where you live. The Arizona Department of Health Services will open approximately 50,000 vaccination appointments at State Farm Stadium and Phoenix Municipal Stadium at Noon on March 2 to those 55 and older for appointments starting March 4.
How to sign up and schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment
Register for appointments at State Farm Stadium, Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Chandler-Gilbert Community College and other vaccination sites at https://podvaccine.azdhs.gov
Vaccination site information: azhealth.gov/findvaccine
You can use the Patient Portal at podvaccine.azdhs.gov to make an appointment for a relative in a prioritized group
Continuing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- When will you be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Arizona? What we know so far
- Phoenix business owner loses 75 pounds after customer offers him some life-changing advice
- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey talks COVID-19 vaccines hours after receiving his own
- US will have enough COVID-19 vaccines for all adults by end of May, Biden says
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