Gila County wants to hire an immunization chief to help with the COVID-19 vaccine delivery.

In June, Gila County signed a contract with Guild Health Consulting for COVID-19 Pandemic, Planning, Preparedness, and Surge Response assistance for an amount not to exceed $192,400.

The health department came to the supervisors Jan. 5 to request an increase in the contract amount by $85,000 so the health department can add immunization section chief for the vaccine response.

Gila County is preparing for mass vaccinations of all Gila County residents now that the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are approved for distribution.

The Gila County Health and Emergency Management Department has been awarded by the Arizona Department of Health Services three additional rounds of vaccination funding in the amounts of $125,000, $77,000, and $25,000 from the in order to fund the COVID-19 vaccine planning, cold-storage, and vaccination activities.

Latest on the COVID-19 vaccine for Gila County

The CDC has published extensive recommendations for a phased approach for vaccine delivery within Gila County over the next several months. The Arizona Department of Health Services and Gila County will follow the recommendations established by CDC.

Due to the limited supply of vaccine, vaccination efforts will be highly targeted to protect the most vulnerable populations in Gila County.

Phase 1 is divided into 3 sub phases. Phase 1A prioritizes front line healthcare workers, emergency medical service workers, and long-term care facility staff and residents. Phase 1B groups include adults in congregate settings, law enforcement, teachers and childcare workers, and essential services/critical industry workers.

Phase 1C includes any adults aged 65 and older, and adults of any age with high-risk medical conditions.

Phase 1 is expected to be completed by mid-February 2021 since everyone requires 2-vaccine shots spread 28-30 days apart.

Gila County Health Department is currently moving into Phase 1B while still working on completing Phase 1A. Here are a few FAQ’s which Michael O’Driscoll, director of the county health department, hopes will assist the public.

Q: How do I know where and when the vaccination clinics will be held in Gila County?

A: Group 1A is a very specific group of professionals and we were in contact with those health care organizations and first responders in advance of receiving our first allocation of vaccine and worked with this group to set up clinics. The dates and times for these clinics were not publicized.

Q: How come the Gila County Health Department does not have a list of planned vaccination clinics?

A: Vaccine is in short supply right now and each county is allocated vaccine by the CDC and ADHS based on a population formula. We can only plan clinics when we are allocated vaccine from the CDC and ADHS and the number of vaccines we receive changes from week to week.

Q: Will every resident have the opportunity to receive COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Absolutely! As we continue to receive vaccine, we will open vaccination clinics throughout Gila County and work with our health care partners to make those available to every resident.

Q: How will I know what group Gila County is in for administering COVID-19 vaccine?

A: The Gila County Health Department will begin to notify the public utilizing Facebook postings, website updates, and press releases once we move into other groups and finalize dates and times for clinics. Information will be posted and periodically updated on our Gila County Health & Emergency Management and Gila County Facebook page, as well as on www.Readygila.com

Q: How can you contact Gila County to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine?

A: The best way to contact us is to email us a request at covid19vaccine@gilacountyaz.gov. We ask that you do not send a request until we have officially notified the public that the group you fall into is being vaccinated. Please allow several days for our COVID-19 team to answer your emails. We are currently receiving hundreds of emails and calls each day.

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

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