Health expert: Arizona should overhaul COVID vaccine appointment system

Feb 10, 2021, 5:00 PM | Updated: Feb 11, 2021, 9:52 am
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — An Arizona health expert said on Wednesday that the state needs to overhaul the entire appointment system for coronavirus vaccines.

Will Humble, executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association and former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, says the current system is favoring those who have good computers, broadband WiFi and the job flexibility to be able to log on at the proper time.

“You have to have a flexible job because as soon as those appointments become live, you’re able to get on at exactly the right time because it’s like concert tickets — they’re gone,” Humble told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad on Wednesday.

The last time Arizona made COVID-19 vaccine appointments available was on Feb. 3, and all 21,000 of those slots were taken in 39 minutes.

Humble suggests Arizona should follow a system similar to what they are doing in Minnesota.

The system would allow anyone trying to get a vaccine to enter all necessary information once to the state’s health department and then as vaccines come in from the manufacturers, state health officials would be able to better prioritize those in more vulnerable populations.

Humble also says this system would allow the state to see where vaccines have and still need to be distributed.

“It just seems like it’s obvious that the system right now, not only doesn’t it work for seniors… but it’s disadvantaging lower-income people,” he said.

“And there are ways to do it simpler and smarter with a little bit of creativity. … That’s what I’m working on: Let’s try to make this vaccine appointment system more equitable these days.”

Another issue Arizonans are facing is a location in which they can receive the vaccine.

Due to the Pfizer vaccine requiring to be stored at colder temperatures, pharmacies or doctors’ offices aren’t receiving doses that can be distributed to patients.

That’s why Humble is hopeful that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — which still has to be given emergency authorization approval — can be the first to do so.

“Because of the flexibility with that vaccine, it allows us to get it into pharmacies and doctors’ offices where people want to get it. That’s where they get their flu shot,” he said.

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Health expert: Arizona should overhaul COVID vaccine appointment system