vaccine

Tammi-Jo Wilkins, emergency preparedness specialist at Cochise Health & Social Services, receives the first shipment of Moderna vaccine on Monday.

COCHISE COUNTY — The Moderna vaccine has arrived in Cochise County and 30 entities authorized to administer it will start immunizing frontline health care workers immediately, officials said Monday.

People who don’t fall under any of the occupational, health or age categories — the general population — should have access to the vaccine by summer, state officials said.

Monday just before 1 p.m., the highly-anticipated first shipment of the Moderna vaccine arrived at Cochise Health and Social Services in Bisbee, said Director Alicia Thompson.

That means the 30 healthcare providers eligible to get the shot will likely receive their doses Tuesday, Thompson said.

“The first members of our community to receive the vaccine will be healthcare workers who are working directly with patients who have, or may have, COVID-19,” Thompson said Monday.

The distribution of the vaccine also depends on which kind of vaccine becomes available to the county. Thompson said Cochise Health and Social Services has the capability of obtaining the Pfizer vaccine, which must be kept under colder storage than the Moderna vaccine.

“Everything is dependent on which vaccine we’re getting, then we’ll open it up to more people,” Thompson said.

A distribution chart of the vaccine issued by the state’s Vaccine and Antiviral Prioritization Advisory Committee lists three phases for administering the Moderna vaccine. Phase One has three sections — 1A, 1B and 1C.

Once healthcare workers and EMS personnel are given the shot, the next group under 1A includes residents and staff of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.

The next group, 1B, is identified as “protective service workers or “law enforcement, firefighters and corrections officers.” It also includes teachers and others who work with children, high-risk adults in congregate settings, critical industry workers such as power and utility employees, food and agriculture personnel and healthcare employees not included in the 1A category.

The 1C category includes people older than 65 and anyone who has a high-risk medical condition no matter what their age.

The time frame stipulated for administering the vaccine to individuals belonging to either of the three groups is between now and spring.

The VAPAC chart also lists Phase 2, which includes anyone remaining from Phase 1 or additional high-risk or critical populations. Phase 3 lists individuals remaining from Phases 1 and 2 and the public. The time frame for Phase 2 immunizations is between spring and summer, and the Phase 3 time frame is summer.

Thompson said that one group will not necessarily have to wait for another group before they are able to get vaccinated.

“If we have enough vaccine doses to administer to (people) in 1B, we will,” Thompson said Monday. “They would not have to wait for all of 1A to get vaccinated. It could be that someone in 1A (group) is on vacation.”

Once more vaccine doses arrive, Cochise Health and Social Services will put out notices advising the public, Thompson said.

The Moderna vaccine requires two doses, one month apart, said Cochise County Deputy Administrator Sharon Gilman in a press release Monday. Drive-thru immunization clinics will be established throughout the county, Thompson said Monday, and they’ll be scheduled approximately four weeks apart.

Gilman said information about the drive-thru vaccination clinics can be obtained at www.cochise.az.gov, the County’s Facebook page, and other media outlets.

Drive-thru immunizations will likely start with the 1B group, Thompson said.