The University of Arizona began operations Thursday as a state-run POD, or point of distribution, after it served as a county-wide vaccination center since mid-January.
The state plans to eventually transition the site to operate 24/7 and distribute up to 6,000 vaccines a day.
The UA is the third state-run site in Arizona after the State Farm Stadium in Glendale opened on Jan. 11 and the Phoenix Municipal Stadium opened on Feb. 1. It’s the first site to include a walk-up vaccination option in addition to a drive-through site.
The drive-through location is on the University of Arizona Mall and the walk-up site is at the Ina E. Gittings Building.
Adults 65 and over, education and childcare workers and protective service workers are currently eligible to receive the vaccine at the POD through appointments only.
Nearly 12,000 appointments through February have been booked, however.
Currently, the UA POD is administering Pfizer vaccines, as it has the proper cold-chain storage the brand requires.
“We were really glad that we were able to keep this POD with the Pfizer vaccine because it has such strict handling requirements that is much easier at these mass distribution centers,” Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said. “What that does is it saves the Moderna vaccine for those mobile clinics, for those community-based PODs because the storage requirements aren't that stringent.”
Last week, the Pima County's vaccine supply was decreased to 17,850—a 40% reduction from the previous week. This week, the doses were cut down to 16,300 doses of Moderna.
The state is now taking control of all Pfizer allocations, but the county has no insight into what the Pfizer allotment for this week was.
While vaccine shipments to Pima County have been delayed due to severe winter weather conditions across the nation, Christ said the state’s Pfizer vaccines should arrive on time, but the Moderna doses have not yet shipped.
“What we're anticipating right now, given I can't predict the weather, would be that [the Moderna vaccines] probably will arrive at the beginning of next week, because we've heard that they will not ship on the weekends,” Christ said.
While the UA site is not yet operating 24 hours, the health director said the POD is delivering up to 1,200 doses throughout the day.
While vaccine arrival at most of Pima County's vaccination sites is threatened by weather conditions, Christ anticipates UA will continue to be regularly supplied.
“We anticipate getting level supply for the next couple of weeks," she said. "So what we would likely do is keep the number of doses here so that we can make sure that we're meeting all of the appointments that have already been scheduled, then after a couple of weeks, as we anticipate getting more and more vaccine, then we would increase the supplies pro-rata."