Maricopa County to not immediately lower coronavirus vaccine age cutoff

Jan 14, 2021, 2:58 PM | Updated: 9:11 pm

PHOENIX – Maricopa County health officials announced on Thursday that the county would not lower the coronavirus vaccine eligibility age from 75 to 65 at its county-run sites despite new recommendations from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Arizona’s largest county made the decision to keep the current requirements in place because it does not yet have enough vaccine to open it up to those 65-74 years old.

“We know that ADHS has announced they are opening up to those who are 65 and over, however Maricopa County is dedicated to its current mission of serving those in phases 1A and prioritized 1B,” Maricopa County Medical Director Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine said at a press conference.

“Until we can get further along in that mission, we are not going to be able to open up and expand to other groups until that vaccine opens up in supply.”

On Wednesday, ADHS announced it would be lowering the vaccine cutoff age from 75 to 65 years old, meaning around 750,000 Arizonans could become eligible with the change; however, the state later clarified that it was up to each county to adopt those recommendations.

“Keep in mind, not every county is in phase 1B in Arizona,” ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s the Mike Broomhead Show on Thursday. “And given the limited resources, not every county may be able to prioritize the same way that the state is, so it’s really on a county-by-county basis.”

That expansion to phase 1B was made after federal authorities changed their recommendations for prioritizing shots while supply is limited.

According to state officials, 85% of the Arizonans who have died from COVID-19 and more than half who have been hospitalized have been 65 or older.

Sunenshine said Maricopa County is currently vaccinating approximately 10,000 people per day at its current distribution sites and is working to add additional sites and pharmacy partners in the coming weeks.

“We’re not sure when we’ll have enough vaccine to include the additional 400,000 people in the 65 and over category,” Sunenshine said.

“When we get to that point, we’re going to be ready with additional PODs planned so we can get that vaccine out to everyone who wants it.”

At state run sites like State Farm Stadium and Phoenix Municipal, those who are 65 can sign up for the vaccine even though they are in Maricopa County.

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Maricopa County to not immediately lower coronavirus vaccine age cutoff