CDC needle image (copy)

The Centers for Disease Control and Gila County have started to send more than a thousand vaccines to other counties because appointments have declined so sharply. At the same time, a variant has arrived in the county. The pandemic is far from over, say Gila County health officials.

Federal officials are recommending that Arizonans 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities, and those ages 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions get a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine if they are at least six months past their second shot.

In addition, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance says those ages 18 to 64 in high-risk professional and institutional settings and those ages 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions may get a booster dose of Pfizer at least six months after their second shot, based on their individual benefits and risks.

“Rest assured there is plenty of Pfizer vaccine in Arizona to accommodate not just those needing booster doses but those who need their first doses,” said Don Herrington, interim director of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). “Our primary focus remains helping unvaccinated Arizonans make the lifesaving choice to take advantage of safe, free, and highly effective COVID-19 vaccines.”

The recommendation involves only those who were vaccinated with the Pfizer/COMIRNATY vaccine. Decisions are pending whether boosters will be recommended for those who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines.

For those needing guidance on whether they should get a booster dose ADHS recommends consulting your health care provider.

For most people in these groups, getting a booster dose will be as simple as visiting their health care provider or visiting one of the hundreds of pharmacies and other providers around Arizona that offer the Pfizer vaccine, now offered under the brand name COMIRNATY. ADHS has an interactive map listing providers and the types of vaccine they offer at azdhs.gov/FindVaccine.

The ADHS COVID-19 hotline — 844.542.8201 (select Option 8) — provides assistance in English and Spanish from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, except for major holidays. Information on boosters also is posted at azdhs.gov/Boosters.

As a part of Arizona’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) members who cannot provide or arrange their own transportation can contact their health plans to coordinate transportation to a vaccine provider or call 855-345-6432 to reach the transportation line. Transportation assistance is also available through some county health departments.

Those in long-term care settings should check whether their facility plans to offer transportation to vaccination providers or offer on-site vaccinations. ADHS and county partners are helping connect facilities with vaccination providers. Meanwhile, those needing to be vaccinated at home can contact their home health provider or seek information through their county health department.

Those seeking Pfizer boosters and first doses of any COVID-19 vaccine should consider getting their flu vaccine at the same time. Having as many people as possible vaccinated against seasonal flu will help reduce the potential for severe illness and reduce strain on Arizona’s health care system.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, boosters and provider locations, please visit azdhs.gov/COVID19Vaccines or call 844-542-8201 and select Option 8. To learn more about ways to protect yourself from COVID-19, please visit azdhs.gov/COVID-19.

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