The Show on KJZZ

Arizona Opens COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments To Anyone 16 Or Older

By Rocio Hernandez, Steve Goldstein
Published: Monday, March 22, 2021 - 11:38am
Updated: Tuesday, March 23, 2021 - 1:16pm

Audio icon Download mp3 (2.05 MB)

Dr. Cara Christ
Rocio Hernandez/KJZZ
During a press conference March 23, 2021, Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said the decision to take this next step was driven in part by the high amount of appointment cancellations at state-run operations across Arizona.

Arizona officials have announced that starting this Wednesday, Arizonans ages 16 and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine at any of its state-run vaccination sites located in Pima, Maricopa and Yuma counties.

Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement on Monday morning the state is taking this next step after a review of vaccination data, anticipated vaccine supply and current demand among prioritized groups.

“Our goal has been and remains to get vaccine into the community as quickly, widely and equitably as possible,” said Gov. Ducey. “Given a thorough review of vaccination data, anticipated vaccine supply, and current demand among prioritized groups, now is the time to take this critical next step.” 

The announcement comes after state sites in Maricopa and Pima counties have been struggling to fill appointments.

“We anticipate more and more vaccine reaching Arizona heading into April, making it possible now to expand prioritization,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, in a statement. “We have been flexible and nimble throughout, while expanding the availability of state sites to vaccinate large numbers of people rapidly.” 

This change also applies to pharmacies and federally qualified health centers participating in COVID-19 vaccination programs.

During a press conference Monday, Christ said the decision to take this next step was driven in part by the high amount of appointment cancellation at state-run operations across Arizona. As of Monday morning, 58,000 appointments released on Friday were left unfilled. The state’s State Farm Stadium site in Glendale — which is capable of vaccinating 12,000 to 15,000 people a day — was getting almost 3,000 cancellations a day as people were finding earlier appointments elsewhere, Christ said. 

“And so in order to make sure we are utilizing our resources efficiently, what we wanted to do was to open it up to anybody that’s eligible,” she said. 

With this announcement, Christ anticipates demand for the vaccine will be high for the next two weeks. To make the process easier, Christ said her department has improved its vaccine patient portal so people don’t have their appointment slot taken from under them as they finish registering. 

She also reminds people that 16- and 17-year-olds are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. Individuals 18 and older are eligible for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Arizona Coronavirus Cases, Deaths

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to correct a quote from Dr. Cara Christ. 

→ Get The Latest News On COVID-19 In Arizona 

CoronavirusThe Show

One Source, My Connection!