Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Monday that vaccinations could be available for all residents 16 and older in select areas of the state by the end of this week. But with vaccination efforts still underway in Western Arizona, Mohave County officials will continue to focus on those who need it most.
Ducey issued a statement on Monday that people in Pima, Maricopa and Yuma counties older than 16 will be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine by this Wednesday. And although it would seem that Mohave County will follow its own path toward immunization efforts, health officials will prioritize residents who represent the virus’ highest mortality rate.
“Eight out of 10 coronavirus deaths continue to be in the 65-and-older age group,” said Mohave County Health Director Denise Burley. “The focus at this time is for the current age group to have an opportunity to be vaccinated.”
Although that demographic may seem limited to some, it’s an important one for Mohave County. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, residents ages 65 and older represented about 31% of Mohave County’s total population as of July 2019 – almost double the state average for residents within the same age group.
The Mohave County Health Department has been engaged in ongoing communication with the county’s leadership, as well as its own public health team and local vaccine providers to ensure a continued ease of vaccinations, Burley said. The department is continuing to work with state officials to further implement the county’s vaccination efforts.
“Mohave County continues to monitor the demand for vaccine, the percentage of those who have been vaccinated and the vaccine supply provided by Arizona Department of Health Services to make informed decisions for next steps,” Burley said.
According to Burley, reported coronavirus cases remain stable, and health officials are continuing to monitor the situation. As of last Thursday, Mohave County coronavirus cases appeared to follow a declining trend since late January, according to records from the Arizona Department of Health Services. On Jan. 27, state records show that 387 new coronavirus cases were reported. On March 18, records show that only 22 new cases were reported.
In prior public statements, however, Burley has made clear the state’s records have long lagged behind Mohave County’s actual case numbers by several weeks. Since Friday afternoon, 63 new coronavirus cases and two additional deaths were reported by the Mohave County Health Department. One of those deaths occurred in the Kingman area, while the other occurred in Lake Havasu City.
As of Monday, the state reported that 56,584 doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered to Mohave County residents, and 2.9 million doses of the vaccine have been administered to 1.8 million residents statewide. According to the Arizona Governor’s Office, 58,000 appointments to receive the vaccine were still available throughout the state.
Elsewhere in Arizona, Ducey said Monday that it’s time to take a “critical next step.” State health officials have reviewed vaccination data and anticipated supplies of the vaccine, as well as demand among prioritized groups, Ducey said.
According to Arizona Director of Health Services Cara Christ, more shipments of the vaccine are expected next month, making the expansion of eligibility possible.
“We have been flexible and nimble throughout, while expanding the availability of state sites to vaccinate large numbers of people rapidly,” Christ said in a news release Monday.