The winter storms that recently engulfed much of the United States forced the Greenlee County Health Department to cancel its COVID-19 vaccination clinics Friday and Saturday and delayed shipments of the vaccine to both Greenlee and Graham counties.
Dr. Fred Fox, medical director for the Greenlee County Health Department, said the department canceled the clinics because a shipment of 1,000 doses of the virus that was supposed to arrive Feb. 16 did not. More than 300 residents had been scheduled to receive a shot during the cancelled clinics, he said. He is hopeful the shipment will arrive Feb. 23 along with another 1,000 doses.
Because of the delayed shipment, the health department stopped making appointments for Wednesdays through Friday. If the shipment arrives, the county and Gila Health Resources will work as quickly as they can to catch up on inoculating residents against a virus that has taken the lives of nine county residents, Fox said.
Of the 8,500 to 9,000 people eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Greenlee County, roughly one-third have received their first dosage, Fox said. There is still some “vaccination hestitancy” among the younger population, those who did not see the wonders vaccinations had when it came to such things as polio, pertussis and measles, he said.
Health department officials also suspect that some of those who have not received their shots may not have access to the internet to sign up or may lack transportation. Fox is urging those people to call the county, which can help with both issues.
Graham County Health Department Director Brian Douglas said he, too, is hopeful last week’s vaccination shipment will arrive with the coming week’s Feb. 23. They’ve not had to cancel appointments, yet, but they’ll be out of the vaccine on Feb. 23 unless that shipment arrives.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 1,480,973 doses of the vaccine have been given statewide and just under 399,000 people have received both doses.
Graham County has administered 5,556 doses and 1,681 people have received both shots. In Greenlee County, 4,053 doses have been given and 905 people have received both shots.