While COVID-19 vaccines will not be provided to the public for weeks, if not months, hundreds of health care workers in Maricopa County received the first of a two-dose vaccine—as the coronavirus continues its alarming spread.
On Christmas Eve, Maricopa County reported 4,670 new COVID-19 cases. In September and October, most days the county reported 500 or fewer new COVID-19 cases.
The average number of new daily cases in the county in December is 3,865, more than double the November daily average of 1,558.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccinations at points of distribution like Abrazo West picked up steam, with the county reporting more than 18,000 people received vaccinations during last week’s beginning of the rollout.
While the county focused on health care workers, this week, residents of senior facilities will begin receiving protection against a virus most deadly with the elderly.
Three-quarters of the COVID-19 deaths in Maricopa County have been in the age group of 65 and older.
And 1,488 of the county’s 4,840 deaths from COVID-19 were residents of long-term care facilities.
Less than 2% of people in the county with COVID-19 have died from the disease.
But 26% of the 5,714 people in long-term facilities diagnosed with the disease died.
“The CDC is partnering with CVS, Walgreens and Managed Health Care Associates in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care (LTC) Program to offer on-site COVID-19 vaccination services for residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities,” said Jennifer Franklin, a county spokeswoman.
She said most long-term care facilities in Maricopa County will be included in the CDC program.
“The county will provide vaccinations to those facilities who are not part of the program. We do not yet know the total number of facilities or vaccine doses needed to fill in those gaps,” Franklin added.
At Glencroft Center for Modern Aging in Glendale, the largest senior facility in the state, “We expect our licensed areas to be offered vaccines perhaps as early as the week of Dec. 28,” said Scott McClintock, Glencroft’s chief strategy officer.
The first phase (1A) is for “paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.” That includes workers at hospitals, long-term facilities and school nurses.
According to Franklin, “more than 55,000 health care workers have registered” for the coronavirus vaccine, as of Dec. 24.
The second phase (1B) includes police officers and teachers.
The third phase (1C) for COVID-19 vaccinations includes people 65 and older.
According to the county, “There is no sign-up process or pre-screen survey available for Phase 1B or 1C. More information about eligibility and the vaccine distribution process for populations prioritized in Phase 1B and 1C will be shared as soon as it becomes available.”