Arizona reverses course, will allow a FEMA COVID-19 vaccine site in Pima County

By Stephanie Innes | Arizona Republic

An outcry from Pima County prompted the state of Arizona to back off its previous decision to reject a federally operated vaccine site.

The state is giving the Federal Emergency Management Agency authority to work directly with Pima County on operating a vaccine site there, Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona Department of Health Services director, said Friday.

That action is a reversal of the state’s decision to reject FEMA’s offer of a vaccine site in Arizona — a decision that was met with disbelief and objections by leaders in Pima County, as well as by Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, Raúl Grijalva, Ruben Gallego, Tom O’Halleran and Greg Stanton, the five Democratic members of Arizona’s congressional delegation.

During an emergency meeting on Wednesday of the Democratic-majority Pima County Board of Supervisors, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said a federal site could vaccinate an additional 210,000 people in Pima County over six to eight weeks, above and beyond their regular allocation of doses from the state.

One or more federal sites would provide an opportunity to reduce the amount of new coronavirus in circulation in a short period of time, Huckelberry said. 

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