The Arizona Department of Health Services has lifted eligibility requirements for the COVID-19 vaccine it distributes at it’s five sites in Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties, making the vaccine available to more than 5 million state residents.
In an announcement Monday, ADHS said beginning at 8 a.m. on March 24, anyone 16 years or older can schedule a vaccine appointment through the state-run vaccination portal. State residents can make an appointment for themselves or a relative online by visiting podvaccine.azdhs.gov or by calling 844-542-8201.
“Given a thorough review of vaccination data, anticipated vaccine supply, and current demand among prioritized groups, now is the time to take this critical next step,” Gov. Doug Ducey said in a press release.
ADHS said vaccine appointments open up every Friday at 11 a.m.
As of Monday, more than 1.8 million state residents had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
While the state’s vaccination plan initially outlined a phased approach based mainly on a person’s occupation — jobs like health care workers, law enforcement, teachers and other essential workers were prioritized — ADHS later began moving to what it called a “hybrid prioritization model” of adding age groups to eligibility parameters.
The change in eligibility requirements only applies to state-run vaccination sites, which are located at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale; Arizona State University’s Phoenix Municipal Stadium in Tempe; the Chandler-Gilbert Community College; the University of Arizona in central Tucson; and the Yuma Civic Center in Yuma County.
State sites use the Pfizer vaccine, which can be given to people 16 and older. County sites use the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which are approved for those 18 and older, according to ADHS.
Ducey told reporters Monday that the change came because, among other factors, the supply for the vaccine appears to be keeping up with the demand.
According to ADHS, as of Monday morning there were 58,000 appointments available for people who are currently eligible, which includes adults over 55, healthcare workers and employees in “frontline” essential industries.
“We have a lot of vaccine hesitancy in our state and our country, along with some historical apprehension around getting the vaccine. So the best thing we can do is allow everyone that wants a vaccine to get a vaccine to help build that confidence,” Ducey said. “And because there was some slack in the system in terms of appointments available and now additional supply on hand, we can safely open it up and make sure the people that need the vaccine can also access the vaccine.”