COCHISE COUNTY — People who are 55 and older can now get inoculated against COVID-19 in Cochise County, health officials said.
The addition of the younger age group — currently people who are 65 and older are being vaccinated in the county — was announced Monday by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Also, Cochise County has received its first shipment of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine — 1,200 doses — which will start being administered as early as next week, county officials said.
Calling it a “new hybrid approach to COVID-19 vaccination,” state health officials said the new eligible group also includes front line and essential workers who are younger than 55.
For the moment, only individuals 55 and older will be able to get the Moderna vaccine in Cochise County, county spokeswoman Camila Rochin said in a press release. That includes frontline and essential workers who fall into that age category.
Frontline and essential workers who are younger than 55 will be eligible to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The latter, which was given Emergency Use Authorization last week by the Food and Drug Administration, is a one-time shot.
Rochin said the county has received its shipment of the vaccine and vaccination partners will start inoculating eligible people next week. The date, times and locations for the Johnson & Johnson vaccination events have not yet been announced.
Meanwhile, frontline and essential workers who are younger than 55 and want the Moderna vaccine — which must be taken twice about 30 days apart — will have to wait until their age category is eligible.
The county’s health department website shows that frontline workers include utility, food and agricultural workers, mail delivery, manufacturing, grocery store employees and public transit workers. Essential workers are defined as transportation and logistics employees, food service workers, housing construction and finance workers, information technology personnel and communications workers, energy, law, media, public safety and public health employees.
Because the county will be using the state’s Vaccine Management System, individuals signing up to get inoculated will have to fall under the Arizona Department of Health Services’ definition of frontline and essential workers, Rochin said.
“ ... it is up to ADHS to decide who is eligible based on their occupation,” Rochin said in an email. “According to the latest ADHS phase chart, Frontline essential workers are defined by ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) as subset of essential workers at highest risk for work-related exposure due to required work-related duties performed onsite and involve being in close proximity — less than six feet — to public or coworkers. This includes food and agriculture, grocery store, convenience store, US Postal Service, manufacturing, public transit, state and local government workers, and funeral home workers.”
Joining Cochise County and its vaccine partners in following the state’s new guidelines is Federal Retail Pharmacy Partners. The latter is now accepting appointments for individuals 55 and older to get vaccinated, Rochin said. There are three businesses with five locations in the county where one can register for the Moderna vaccine. These include Safeways in Bisbee, Benson and Willcox; Fry’s in Sierra Vista; and CVS in Sierra Vista.
Here are the retailers’ links to register for the vaccine: