Phoenix, Arizona - Health care professionals and volunteers in both the public and private sectors worked hard this year to protect the health of our communities and make vaccines available to every Arizonan that wanted one.
With the release of the COVID-19 vaccine, Arizona’s Department of Health Services spearheaded nationally recognized mass vaccination programs, accompanied by expanded testing. The state has administered 9.75 million doses to date, with nearly 4 million Arizonans fully vaccinated.
Just three months after the first shot in Arizona, the state administered the 500,000th COVID-19 vaccination dose at State Farm Stadium, reaching 2.5 million doses across the state. The state’s vaccine response received an ‘A’ grade from researchers at the Belfer Center at Harvard University. The recognition included categories of vaccines per capita and time to vaccinate those eligible.
Governor Doug Ducey strengthened enforcement against burdensome vaccine and mask mandates. Arizona law states that businesses are not required to enforce mask mandates that any jurisdiction in this state established. Emphasizing there are no mask mandates in Arizona, the Governor referenced the lack of enforcement by the local jurisdiction as part of the reasoning. Furthermore, Governor Ducey protected Arizonans from local vaccine mandates, ensuring those employed by a local government could use earned sick leave due to COVID-19 exposure. The action was consistent with legislation the Governor signed in June which disallows a city, town or county to implement vaccination mandates.
Helping to spearhead the state’s COVID-19 response, is Arizona Department of Health Services Director Don Herrington, who was named interim director in August. Director Herrington, a 21-year ADHS veteran, succeeded Dr. Cara Christ, who was instrumental in the state’s COVID-19 response. Dr. Christ left her position in August for another leadership role for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.
The Governor and Director Herrington together named Dr. Richard Carmona to serve as the senior advisor on public health emergency preparedness and lead a statewide effort to boost vaccine awareness in Arizona.
As the year draws to a close, COVID-19 diagnostic testing remains a priority for Arizona. Governor Ducey and ADHS have worked hard to ensure COVID-19 tests are available to everyone, at low or no cost.