Mohave County has the second worst vaccination rate in Arizona, and recent developments seem to offer some insights into how we got here.
When Embry Health Clinics joined the county’s vaccine efforts about a month ago, the Mohave County Public Health Department hailed it as a game-changer. The clinics, which were already operating on the Mohave Community College campuses in Lake Havasu City, Bullhead City and Kingman, promised to greatly scale the vaccine distribution throughout the county.
Things were far from perfect, but the pace of vaccinations did seem to pick up in the days that followed and vaccination appointments were scheduled out through the end of March — maybe later. In fact, demand was so high that the county had to call in help from FEMA to operate a call center that could help elderly residents schedule their vaccine appointments.
Less than a month later, Mohave County quietly announced that no more vaccines would be given to Embry, never mind all those appointments. It turned out the clinics were apparently running into paperwork issues with the state, according to Mohave County Supervisor Ron Gould. It’s not clear what documentation is missing, but public health director Denise Burley mentioned the vaccination rate when she told supervisors last week that some vaccine providers weren’t submitting paperwork as required by the state, perhaps indicating that the county’s numbers are artificially low.
The county has said it would be happy to work with Embry again when that follow-up paperwork is figured out.
Bureaucrats love bureaucracy.
Here’s the thing: Embry Health Clinic appears to be very good about getting shots in arms, offering an efficiency that eluded Mohave County until the group came along. If the group is bottlenecked on the paperwork side, why not offer some help? The county has the resources to assist. Fairly early during the pandemic, the health department hired a bunch of people to work as contact tracers — but with so many new cases of coronavirus now chalked up to “community spread” — the idea that we can trace a case at all seems quaint at best. Why not reassign those folks to work with any health clinics that need additional administrative help? Start with Embry so that all those people signed up to get a vaccine can continue to do so as planned.
Mohave County’s vaccination rate is bad, but recent actions will only make it worse.