BISBEE — So far, Cochise Health and Social Services has given 46,006 doses of vaccine, including first and second doses of Moderna and one-shot Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, to county residents and is on track to give another 5,700 doses next week.
County Public Health Emergency Preparedness coordinator Craig Janiszewski gave Supervisors Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby the news in the weekly COVID–19 update Friday and told them the one-shot Janssen vaccine was in high demand.
So far, 56.5 percent of people 65 and older and 31.4 percent of people 55 to 64 have been vaccinated, he said.
Though the county has opened up vaccination slots for people 45 to 54, the state registration website has not caught up with the decision and it may be hard for people in that age group to sign up for appointments, he continued. They can call 844-542-8201 and leave a message if they cannot reach a state person to help. The state is supposed to call them back.
“If someone tries to get an appointment and is rejected, they can email CHSS at email@example.com and the county will assist in getting the appointments,” said Janiszewski.
The county’s positive cases of COVID–19 continue to decline with just 68 over the past week recorded, he said. Due to testing, antibodies to the virus are increasingly found in some of the population.
Over the weekend, two large-scale points of distribution for the Moderna vaccine were open, one in Sierra Vista and one in Tombstone, according to CHSS director Alicia Thompson.
The one in Tombstone, which will serve the surrounding areas of Gleason, Elfrida, McNeal and St. David, was determined as an underserved area as vaccination rates have been low, said Thompson. Contact tracer Daniel Williamson did a survey of ZIP codes to find areas of the county with low vaccination rates.
“We want to make data-driven decisions to get the vaccinations out to people,” said Thompson.
Tammy Jo Wilkins, county Emergency Preparedness Specialist, said with the help of Copper Queen Community Hospital, which has a health clinic in Tombstone, 300 appointments were established and another 300 doses were added for walk-ins from outlying communities or anyone within the county who wanted to get the vaccine, Wilkins said. Announcements for the point of distribution were plastered in convenience stores, food banks, post offices and senior centers and posted on social media in advance of the event.
At Buena High School on Saturday, another 800 doses were scheduled, she added.
On March 26, the county will hold a vaccination clinic with 200 slots available for the Janssen vaccine in Willcox at Cochise Community College. Another 100 vaccinations will be available for farm workers.
Thompson said, “We only give the vaccine to people who are residents of Cochise County and our snowbirds. We will not accept people from others counties.”
In order to be sure all areas of the county are included in the vaccination events, CHSS staff will be meeting beginning on March 26, with elected representatives and community members in the county and cities to get their feedback on how to increase the number of vaccinations, said Thompson. An email will carry all the information necessary about the meetings and will go out to all on the county’s list. Four online meetings are planned to make sure everyone has the opportunity to attend as there is a 100-person limit per meeting, and each one will have the same content.