Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) today announced a new targeted effort to ensure individuals with disabilities have quick, easy access to COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
Arizona is partnering with Ability360 and The Arc, organizations that empower individuals with disabilities and support their full inclusion in the community, and the Special Olympics to hold vaccination events at their locations. These vaccination events will allow those living with disabilities and their families to be vaccinated at familiar locations.
“Now that all Arizonans have the opportunity to get the vaccine, we want to ease the process for those with disabilities to sign up for an appointment and get vaccinated,” Governor Ducey said. “I’m grateful to Ability360, The Arc, Special Olympics, the Arizona Department of Economic Security, ADHS, and all the organizations across the state working hard to protect Arizonans with disabilities.”
ADHS is working with Passport Health to offer onsite vaccinations to people with disabilities. Details and directions for registering for these events will be communicated through these organizations directly to their communities and will arrange for both first and second doses. Special Olympics is providing volunteers to assist those receiving vaccinations and the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is providing sign language interpreters.
“As vaccine supply increases, we can now launch focused efforts within highly impacted communities,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of ADHS. “This partnership provides access to vaccines for individuals with disabilities and their families in familiar settings, and we will continue to expand these opportunities so all communities have easy access to vaccine within the state.”
Ability360 is providing the facility for the first vaccination event which will occur over two days. It is anticipated that 3,000 doses will be administered to individuals with disabilities and their family members and caregivers. The site will open three weeks later for second doses. Additional events are in the planning stages to be hosted at community locations, including The Arc.
“At Ability360, we’re committed to serving Arizonans with disabilities and ensuring they have access to much-needed resources,” said Phil Pangrazio, president and CEO of Ability360. “This partnership is a big step in ensuring they have the ability to get vaccinated easily and quickly, and that our disability community and their families are further protected from COVID-19. Thank you to everyone working to help Arizonans with disabilities get vaccinated.”
Special Olympics is providing volunteers who are familiar with working with people with disabilities to provide on-site support. They will be assisting individuals and their families navigate the vaccine site and through registration, vaccination, and observation, supporting the families each step of the process.
“Ensuring individuals with disabilities can easily access the vaccine has been a main priority for us,” said president and CEO of Special Olympics Arizona Jamie Heckerman. “Accessibility to the vaccine creates a sense of security and assurance for all Arizonans, especially to the community with disabilities who have experienced detrimental effects from long term isolation. We are proud to join in this partnership to protect vulnerable individuals and families, and I thank everyone who is supporting those with disabilities during the pandemic.”
With statewide chapters and facilities, partnering with The Arc will allow for more vaccination events to individuals in every part of Arizona.
“Our focus is to continuously improve supports and services for individuals with disabilities,” said Executive Director of The Arc Jon Meyers. “This initiative promotes that goal by expanding accessibility to vaccines for many of our state’s most vulnerable residents – members of the disability community and their families. We are proud to partner on this, and we thank everyone who helped advance this project.”
ADHS is also partnering with the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Division of Developmental Disabilities to coordinate vaccination for their members, either by registering the individuals for vaccination appointments at state run vaccination sites or providing vaccination directly in the homes for individuals that cannot leave. Individuals are being directly contacted by their case managers to discuss vaccination needs.
On March 24, state-operated COVID-19 vaccination sites in Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties opened to all Arizonans 16 and older. The update advanced a hybrid approach that had been based on age and also has had counties vaccinating frontline essential workers.
ADHS now opens appointments at 11 a.m. each Friday for State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona State University’s Phoenix Municipal Stadium in Tempe, Dexcom Facility in Southeast Mesa in the East Valley, the University of Arizona in central Tucson, and the Yuma Civic Center. Additional appointments are added daily to the call center and online for those who may be interested in same day appointments. The call center is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
State sites complement county vaccination programs and the growing availability of vaccines at pharmacies and federally qualified health centers participating in federal vaccination programs. Sites using the Pfizer vaccine, including those run by the state, can vaccinate those 16-years-old and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines, which are allocated to counties, are approved for those 18-years-old and older.
Information about all vaccination sites across Arizona can be found at azhealth.gov/findvaccine. Those without computer access or needing extra help registering can call 1-844-542-8201 to be connected with someone who can assist. Note: You can use the patient portal at podvaccine.azdhs.gov to make an appointment for a relative.
To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination, please visit azdhs.gov/COVID19Vaccines.