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Maricopa County to keep prioritizing vaccinations for older residents

(KTAR News Photo/Gabriel Gamino)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County will keep prioritizing COVID-19 vaccinations based on age even as more shots become available, local health leaders said Tuesday.

Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, the county’s public health director, said older residents have a greater chance of extended sickness or death from the virus, so vaccinating as many as possible is the top goal.

“Our strategy now is focusing on the people who are older because they’re most likely to be hospitalized or die from the disease,” Sunenshine said during a press conference.

Maricopa County is currently allowing anyone ages 55 and up to sign up for the shots, although appointments remain limited due to supply.

The next step for the county, according to Sunenshine, is to open registration for those ages 45 and older. That will happen when at least 55% of the eligible group is vaccinated or if health leaders believe there’s no longer a demand for available groups.

Vaccinating the older population is among several initiatives in Maricopa County

Sunenshine said the county is talking with employers whose workers fall under the umbrella of essential workers to make available the newly authorized Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID-19 vaccine once it arrives in Arizona.

The J&J vaccine requires a single shot, so it’s an effective solution for workers who have less availability.

“We want to make sure they’re protected so they’re not only protecting themselves but their families,” Sunenshine said.

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

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

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