As part of its plan to vaccinate frontline or public-facing essential workers, Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) will begin distributing Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) vaccine this week.
Vaccine prioritization for essential workers is following federal guidance, which emphasizes vaccination for people with jobs that put them at highest risk for exposure to COVID-19. Frontline workers are defined by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) as those who maintain critical infrastructure and continue critical services and functions. This subset of essential workers is likely to be at highest risk for work-related exposure to COVID 19, because their work-related duties a) must be performed on-site, and b) involve being within six feet of coworkers or members of the public. This list of frontline essential workers was further refined by Arizona’s statewide Vaccine and Antiviral Prioritization Advisory Committee (VAPAC) and includes the following:
- Food and agriculture
- Grocery store, convenience store, and carnicerias
- U.S. Postal Service
- Public transit
- State and local government
- Funeral homes (if not previously covered in 1A)
“Employers and organizations across Maricopa County are helping us connect with the essential workers in these categories,” said Marcy Flanagan, executive director of MCDPH. “As they set up events, we will provide vaccine and support to make sure we reach this critical group.”
Due to the prioritization of those working frontline roles, not everyone in these industries is immediately eligible for vaccine. However, as vaccine supply increases and more people are vaccinated, additional age-based groups will become eligible, allowing more opportunities for vaccination.
MCDPH and its partners will take many approaches to reach these critical populations. For example, MCDPH is partnering with Valley Metro, City of Phoenix, Phoenix Union School District and Albertson’s/Safeway to put on weekend events to serve transit and postal employees. In addition, some restaurant groups have already contracted with providers, and MCDPH will allocate vaccine to them directly.
“We are partnering with large companies in these categories to notify their staff of events,” said Flanagan. “Meanwhile, Public Health is working with other partners to reach smaller, local grocery stores, restaurants, manufacturers and farm workers.”
MCDPH and its partners are focusing on long-term care facilities and underserved populations in addition to the large points of dispensing (PODs) that opened in late December. Altogether, about 25,000 people a day are receiving a dose of vaccine in Maricopa County where the population is more than 4.5 million people.
MCDPH continues to modify its web resources for the public as more people become eligible for the vaccine. Visit Maricopa.gov/COVID19vaccine for updates.