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The Arizona Cardinal’s pandemic season has ended, but state officials are gunning for a different kind of Hail Mary in State Farm Stadium in Glendale with 24/7 mass vaccinations.
The site is being funded by a $1 million grant from the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation, and will mostly be staffed by volunteers with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, according to a news release issued by Governor Doug Ducey’s office today.
“Our new vaccine site in Glendale will rapidly expand the number of Arizonans getting vaccinated,” Ducey said in a statement. “We need to get these vaccine doses out of freezers and into the arms of Arizonans who want it, and our new site will speed up that process.”
Only people eligible to receive the vaccine under public health officials’ guidelines will be able to access the State Farm Stadium site. But with Maricopa County moving into the next phase of vaccine distribution, a larger pool of people can access it.
On Monday afternoon, when the site will become operational, it will only be open to law enforcement. The next day, people including teachers and those aged 75 and older can get vaccinated at the stadium, as well as people currently eligible to get doses, such as healthcare workers. Information on registering for vaccinations at the site will be posted on the Arizona Department of Health Services’ (DHS) website by Monday morning.
Arizona has struggled to distribute the COVID-19 since it was approved by federal officials back in December. The state has one of the highest rates of infection in the world, yet also one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, and Ducey has voiced frustration about the delays. Meanwhile, computer glitches caused thousands of health care workers in Maricopa County who were eligible to receive the vaccine to be turned away; county and state officials feuded as a result. Another glitch allowed people who weren’t eligible for the vaccine to register for doses.
“We’re not happy with the speed of distribution either,” Dr. Cara Christ, DHS director, said at a Friday news briefing. “We want to see it get out faster.”
She also said that state officials are looking at creating other mass vaccination sites in large facilities like stadiums across the state.
Staff Writer Erasmus Baxter contributed to this report.
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