The University of Arizona plans to decommission its vaccination site as of June 25 and announced new hours last Thursday.
With the decline in vaccine demand and “as other avenues for vaccination become more readily available,” the UA POD plans to scale back its hours and on Monday transitioned to fully indoors at the Ina E. Gittings Building, closing the drive-thru as the days get hotter, announced UA President Robert C. Robbins at the university update on Monday morning.
At the start of next week the UA POD will shorten its hours to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., then on June 1 will continue with new hours only offering second doses.
“We're going to stop taking first dose appointments, relatively soon, just to make sure that the second dose is booked here at the University of Arizona POD, so that we will finish all shots that we started here,” said Vice President of Communications Holly Jensen.
The new POD schedule will be:
- Through May 9, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
- May 10-22, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
- May 23, CLOSED
- May 24-28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
- May 29-31, CLOSED
- June 1-25, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday (second doses only)
While the UA POD is now accepting no-appointment walk-ins, you can still set an appointment at podvaccine.azdhs.gov or call 844-542-8201 for assistance in Spanish or English.
As of Sunday, May 2 the UA POD administered 212,702 vaccines, with more than half identifying as white, non-Hispanic, and 28.3% identifying as Hispanic or Latino.
At the University of Arizona, a total of about 13,281 students, staff and employees have uploaded their vaccination records, with around 8,764 students confirmed vaccinations, plus 1,800 vaccination records being processed and vetted, said Jensen.
Robbins believes the number of vaccinated students would be much higher but not everyone has uploaded their vaccination records.
According to preliminary information from the student survey sent out on April 15, a little more than 60% of students who received both doses or one dose said they have not uploaded their vaccination records and about 86% of students indicated they would get vaccinated, said Jensen.
While the UA POD may be decommissioning at the end of June, former U.S. surgeon general and UA Task Force Director Dr. Richard Carmona emphasized that the pandemic is not over.
“We are still in a pandemic, so don't let your guard down,” said Carmona. “I don't want people to get the impression that because we have a heat plan out now, we're moving indoors, we're starting to demobilize incrementally based on demand so we’re not wasting resources, but make no mistake, the team is still going to be together, monitoring and working to ensure that the university and the community stay safe.”
Carmona said it is important to get everyone vaccinated, not just here in the United States but around the world.
“The fact is the longer this virus is alive around the world the more it's going to circulate. The more it will mutate, and eventually will mutate to a virus that could cause some significant problems,” said Carmona.”There is a scientific reason that we want to encourage the whole world to be vaccinated, and as a humanitarian issue as well. But for the self-preservation of mankind, everybody needs to get vaccinated.”
As health departments battle vaccine hesitancy, the College of Public Health’s Mobile Health Unit is working to increase access to the vaccine for communities of color, building on their work in providing preventative care for these communities.
“Early on in the COVID pandemic, it became evident that communities of color, and the hard to reach populations are disproportionately and adversely affected by this pandemic in terms of transmission, terms of hospitalizations, morbidity and mortality,” said Interim Associate Dean of Community Engagement and Outreach Dr. Cecilia Rosales. “In an effort to address these disparities and inequities in resource allocation and administration of the vaccine. We proposed to the Health Sciences, University of Arizona, this initiative of mobile outreach vaccination and education for underserved populations.”
The MOVE UP initiative, a collaboration between the College of Medicine and the College of Public Health’s Mobile Health Units, brought together health professionals, students and trainees of rural health professions, county and state health departments to increase the vaccination effort and reduce the health disparities.
The initiative vaccinated rural communities across the state, as well as farm workers, truck drivers, and individuals experiencing homelessness.
“it's very important for everybody to understand that what happens in the rural areas are going to impact on us,” said Rosales. She explained how rural communities were affected as city folk moved out of cities. “We're a global community and we have to think about everybody, not just within our own little hub. But we have to think about what's going on in the rest of the world as well.”
In order to instill confidence in the vaccine for those in the Hispanic or Latino communities, Rosales calls on mothers and grandmothers to guide families and encourage vaccinations.
“They should use their power, the power of their voice,” said Rosales in Spanish. “If they get vaccinated, if their children or grandchildren get vaccinated, then they all are protected.”