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Maricopa County closing 2 COVID-19 vaccine pods, changing distribution

(AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County will close two of its six COVID-19 vaccination sites later this month.

Contracts with Dignity Health and Honor Health in the southeast and northeast parts of the county will expire between Feb. 28 and March 6.

But Marcy Flanagan, executive director of the county’s public health department, says the vaccination sites were never meant to form the entire distribution strategy.

“They were the best way to get a large amount of vaccine to priority populations in the beginning,” Flanagan told reporters in a webinar on Thursday.

Public health will now send more shots through schools and childcare facilities, long-term care centers and community events that target rural areas and places where English is not spoken as a first language.

Flanagan and Maricopa County medical director Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine expect no delays in vaccine appointments in the county, which just reached 700,000 doses given. A third of the shots given in the county are second doses.

The latest vaccine data for the county show 30% of the area’s age 65 and older population have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot.

“They’re not only the most vulnerable to severe disease, hospitalization and death, but that also helps protect our healthcare system for everyone else,” Dr. Sunenshine said.

More than 20,000 vaccines have also gone to teachers, school staff, and childcare workers.

Public health reports 15% of all Maricopa County residents have taken one or more COVID-19 shots.

Most health experts agree that number must be five-times higher to reach herd immunity.

For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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