The Graham County Health Department, which originally thought they wouldn’t be able to vaccinate residents 65 and older against COVID-19 until March, began vaccinating those patients Friday.

Director Brian Douglas said that because the county and health clinics have been so “organized and steady,” they have been able to get through those residents who were given a priority by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. He also acknowledged that some people are still hesitant to get vaccinated, so that shortened the priority list.

The county created an online registration process for people 65 and older last week and so far 580 have signed up, Douglas said.

The health department inoculated 200 registered residents Friday and began working through the others on the list Monday, he said.

Residents 65 to 74 years of age can register by visiting the health department’s website at

Graham County’s COVID-19 numbers jumped by more than 200 over the weekend and most of the new patients were prison inmates, according to the Graham County Health Department.

As of late last week, the Arizona Department of Corrections’ website indicated 845 inmates at Safford’s state prison had contracted the virus and 217 of them were still sick. At the federal prison, three inmates out of 624 who have caught the virus remained ill.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Service’s latest numbers, Graham County had a positivity rate of 25.8% compared to the state’s rate of 19.5% and Greenlee County’s 11.1%.

As of Monday, Arizona has documented 762,145 COVID-19 cases and 13,124 deaths. More than 5,000 Graham County residents have caught the virus and 65 had died as of Monday.

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