Here, It's Vaccinations for All

Arizona county was having trouble giving away doses
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2021 3:36 PM CST
County Offers Doses to Everyone Over 18
Theodore Roosevelt Lake in Gila County, Arizona.   (Getty/Shadow_Hawk)

A county in Arizona has simplified its requirements for receiving a COVID-19 vaccination: You just have to be over 18. Gila County opened up its vaccine stock two weeks ago partly because it has one of the state's lowest rates of doses used, CBS reports. Health officials also received Arizona's approval last week to give vaccinations in a drive-thru clinic. "Prior to that, we were struggling to find enough people to make appointments," said Michael O'Driscoll, the county's public health director. "So the state gave me permission to offer it to any resident 18 and older." A county survey had shown half or so of the population of 56,000 would get vaccinated if possible; about one-fourth of residents now have had at least one shot.

Officials have now started offering vaccinations to everyone who works in the small county east of Phoenix, as well, per CNN. A strong communications effort to let people know vaccinations were available, essentially by treating the pandemic as a raging fire, worked well, officials said. "What we did was we set up the pandemic exactly like what we would do during our fire season," O'Driscoll said. "We set up our incident command very similar to that." People from various communities and county departments helped get vaccine to residents. A nursing official at Cobre Regional Medical Center said there's still a lack of eagerness among young people, especially, to get the shots, which she said could hinder efforts to achieve herd immunity. Gila County reported 3,885 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 154 deaths as of Thursday. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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