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Arizona nears milestone of 2 million COVID-19 vaccine shots

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey looks on while shots are prepared at the Phoenix Municipal Stadium COVID-19 vaccination site. (Twitter Photo/@dougducey)

PHOENIX – Arizona’s COVID-19 vaccine push is on pace to reach the milestone of 2 million doses administered as soon as Thursday.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported a total of 1,958,342 shots in its daily dashboard update Thursday morning. Approximately 40,000-50,000 Arizonans are added to the ranks of the vaccinated on most days.

“I was told today by the team we’re going to hit 2 million total vaccines by the end of the week, primarily due to the drive-thru sites,” Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, head of the Arizona National Guard, said Wednesday in Chandler at the launch of the fourth state-run mass vaccination site.

Nearly 1.3 million Arizonans, about 18% of state’s population, have received at least one dose. More than half of them, about 680,000 people, are fully vaccinated.

State officials have estimated that every Arizonan old enough to get a vaccine will be cleared to sign up sometime in May.

“We anticipate being through all the ages that are eligible for a vaccine by the start of summer,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of Arizona health department, said at the opening of the Chandler-Gilbert Community College site.

The 2 millionth shot will come less than four weeks after the state reached 1 million on Feb. 10. Arizona’s vaccination program debuted in mid-December.

The pace will only accelerate in the coming weeks, with the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine on the way after gaining federal authorization. On top of that, Moderna and Pfizer are ramping up production of their existing two-shot versions.

Arizona has adopted a hybrid vaccination system, with the state-run sites limiting service to previously eligible populations while phasing in age groups.

County health departments will determine how to prioritize other at-risk groups, such as essential workers, and vulnerable populations as their vaccine allocations increase.

“Some counties actually are already vaccinating essential workers and some have moved into the general population,” Christ said.

(Arizona Department of Health Services)

The state’s age cutoff was lowered this week from 65 to 55. When 55% of each eligible age group has been vaccinated, the threshold will drop by 10 years.

The state’s Vaccine And Antiviral Prioritization Advisory Committee projects that the 45-54 age group will become eligible March 29, followed by 35-44 on April 19. The final group, 16-34, is projected to gain clearance May 10.

New appointments have been scarce, but more will become available as the vaccine supply increases.

For details about statewide vaccine availability, the ADHS website has a vaccine-finder page with a map of locations and information about registration and eligibility.

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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