(KTAR News Photo/Peter Samore)
PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey pleaded with Arizonans on Wednesday to get the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available to them.
“Public health experts can’t overstate the importance of this, I cannot overstate the importance of this,” Ducey said during a press conference. “We need Arizonans to step up and get the vaccine if we want to stop the spread of this virus.”
During a press conference at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, which will be a vaccination distribution location, Ducey reiterated that the fight against the coronavirus pandemic is “far from over” and called the coronavirus vaccine a “light at the end of the tunnel.”
He also urged Arizonans to continue to heed public health guidance by wearing a mask, social distancing and limiting gatherings.
Public health guidelines dictate that health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities are among the first group to receive the vaccine. Each vaccination requires two doses, several weeks apart.
The first doses of the coronavirus vaccine arrived in the state on Monday and vaccinations started on Tuesday. A World War II veteran and health care workers at the Phoenix VA were among the first to receive the vaccine.
Arizona is expected to receive more than 383,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, but it will likely be months before Arizonans who aren’t in essential jobs or at high risk for complications if they get the virus can get vaccinated.
Ducey said he would receive the coronavirus vaccine when it’s his turn.
During the press conference, Ducey also announced he would allocate and additional $15 million to for the Arizona Department of Health Services to help replenish the public health emergency fund.
The arrival of the first coronavirus vaccines come as infections and hospitalizations continue to surge in the state.
On Wednesday, state health officials reported 4,848 new coronavirus cases and 108 additional deaths, bringing the documented totals to 429,219 COVID-19 infections and 7,530 fatalities.
Statewide, 45% of all inpatient beds and 51% of all ICU beds were filled Tuesday with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients, rates that have been climbing steadily for about two months. The inpatient bed percentage matched the pandemic high from July 13.
For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.