Mesa, Arizona — Lisa was the first Pacific Coast Hospice frontline health care worker in Arizona to receive the COVID-19 vaccine today as Maricopa County Public Health opened its COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Gilbert. Following her overnight shift as a triage nurse at Pacific Coast Hospice, Lisa pulled into the drive-through vaccine lane at 10 a.m. at Chandler Gilbert Community College. Lisa has worked at PCH since founding and said she feels honored to receive the vaccine. After completing the 15 minute observation period, Lisa reported, “It felt just like the flu shot.”

Dignity Health, which operates multiple hospitals in Arizona, is assigned by the county to vaccinate health care workers and at-risk first responders in the southeastern part of the county. The county has designated five sites across the region for distribution of the first phase of the vaccine, primarily to health care workers. Health care workers and first responders have already started answering questions about their job roles and exposures to COVID-19 so that an algorithm can prioritize them from highest to lowest risk. Individuals will be notified when it’s their turn to schedule appointments for the two doses. According to the county’s vaccine distribution plan, “Phase 1A” from December through early 2021 is geared toward health care workers, emergency medical services and long-term care, assisted living, hospice and skilled nursing facility staff and residents.