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Arizona working with FEMA to open Pima County vaccination site

(Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press via AP)

PHOENIX — Arizona officials said Friday the state is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to open a long-awaited mass vaccination site in Pima County by the end of the month.

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Public Health, said the hope is to open a site by the end of April.

Christ revealed that the state and FEMA have to agree on a contract on the federal agency’s terms in order to open the site.

A contract is also required between Arizona and Pima County for the county to uphold FEMA requirements for the location.

“We did talk through all of the conditions yesterday and were able to come to agreements on language for the conditions,” Christ said during a press conference. “I think, you know, when you look at the vaccine management system, FEMA has very specific requirements.”

Christ said contract discussions happened this week, a month after Pima County first approached the state about opening a federally-run site in southern Arizona.

Christ and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey initially said the state would rather have more vaccine for its own distribution operations than new federal sites but eventually allowed Pima County permission to set up sites with FEMA as needed.

Arizona on March 26 sent FEMA a letter stating the agency could partner with Pima County as long as a new site doesn’t affect the state’s resources or operations.

Pima County identified Kino Sports Complex Event Center and El Pueblo Center as possible vaccine sites.

“I know they’re trying to get it before the end of April, so that’s what we’re trying to work for,” Christ said. “There were some changes yesterday that Pima County requested that we have to see if FEMA will agree with.”

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