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Gov. Doug Ducey says vaccines could make Arizona ‘normal’ by summer

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey said Tuesday he expects COVID-19 vaccine distribution to begin in Arizona in three weeks and suggested that things could return to “a very normal state” by the summer.

Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show that health care workers will be the first to get the vaccines when available.

“We’ll see these vaccines in December and throughout January, but for the wider public we should be thinking later — January, February, March – and I don’t think it’s above the height of fantasy at all that we could be back to a very normal state come summertime,” Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.

Ducey cited vaccines from three companies that recently reported trial results showing effectiveness in the range of 90%: AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna.

Ducey said on social media Monday to expect doses to be available by mid-December, and he got more specific on Tuesday.

“So this is Operation Warp Speed,” Ducey said, referencing the federal program to promote the development of coronavirus vaccines. “It’s almost miraculous in terms of the delivery here.

“There are going to be hundreds of thousands of vaccines available for the state of Arizona as soon as Dec. 15.”

So far, only Pfizer has applied to the Food and Drug Administration emergency use of its vaccine, which the company says appears to be 95% effective.

Under emergency use, FDA regulators can authorize the use of vaccines before final testing is fully complete. Pfizer has estimated it could have 50 million doses available by year’s end.

“So, of course, we’re going to start with our health care workers. We’re going to start with our doctors, nurses, the staff inside of our hospitals, the folks in our long-term care facilities,” Ducey said.

“We’re going follow on with our most essential of workers, folks like teachers and other people that make our state run from a protection standpoint.”

Overall, key pandemic metrics have been rising in Arizona at a rate not seen since the first wave hit in June and July. Cases have been surging since the beginning of October and are approaching record levels.

The state health department reported 4,544 new coronavirus cases and 51 more deaths on Tuesday, putting Arizona’s documented totals at 306,868 COVID-19 infections and 6,515 fatalities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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