/ Modified mar 24, 2021 5:29 p.m.

Pima County expands COVID-19 vaccines to those age 16 and older

The county expansion comes with some restrictions.

360 vaccine syringes A bundle of syringes at a COVID-19 vaccination site at Tucson Medical Center. January 2021.
AZPM Staff

Pima County residents over the age of 16 are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine so long as they meet certain criteria.

Those criteria include certain medical conditions, or living in a congregate facility, or working as an essential worker. A full list is at the bottom of this article.

Any Pima County resident over the age of 55 is eligible to get a vaccine with no job or health restrictions.

Earlier this week, the state announced it would vaccinate anyone over the age of 16 at its four vaccine pods, including the one at the University of Arizona.

County officials worry that the wide-open state qualifications with cause some confusion with their more nuanced approach.

“Anytime that we are just a hair’s difference it creates challenges and confusion for our community,” said Dr. Francisco Garcia, Pima County’s Chief Medical Officer.

Garcia said the county decided to move to the restricted 16+ category to get closer in line with what the state is allowing at its sites.

The state decided to allow those age 16 and older to get the COVID-19 vaccination now because the four state pods had thousands of unfilled appointments.

When the University of Arizona opened its appointments Wednesday morning for the rest of the week the appointments were claimed in under an hour.

The state will open appointment slots each Friday for the following week.

County officials said even though more people are now eligible, more vaccines are not available so many people will still have to wait to get the inoculation.

Medical qualifications for those over the age of 16 in Pima County

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Downs syndrome
  • Heart conditions (including heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies)
  • Immunocompromised state aka weakened immune system, from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (Body Max Index (BMI) over 30 kg/m2 or higher or < 40 kg/m2)
  • Severe obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Job qualifications for those over the age of 16 in Pima County

  • Healthcare worker and healthcare support
  • Emergency medical services
  • Long-term care facility staff
  • In-home long-term care
  • Protective services
  • Education and childcare
  • Food and agriculture
  • Restaurants and bars
  • U.S. Postal Service
  • Manufacturing
  • Grocery and convenience stores (including carnicerias)
  • State and local government
  • Public transportation (buses, light rail, Uber, Lyft, taxis, etc.)
  • Auto repair
  • Business/financial services
  • Clergy/faith leaders/ traditional healers
  • Court personnel
  • Critical trade (plumber, electrician, HVAC, etc.)
  • Food packaging
  • Funeral services
  • Gas stations
  • Power/utility
  • Shelters
  • Warehouse distribution
  • Veterinarians and veterinary staff
By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
Arizona Public Media broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents. Arizona Public Media and AZPM are registered trademarks of the Arizona Board of Regents.
The University of Arizona