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Pima County shifting mobile vaccination hours to dodge afternoon heat

The mobile COVID-19 vaccination units at Rillito Race Track and Curtis Park will change operating hours to avoid the intense heat coming this weekend, Pima County Health Department officials said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been running the sites in partnership with Pima County to increase vaccine access in the hardest-hit areas since early May.

The mobile units will open at Rillito Race Track, 4502 N. 1st Ave., and Curtis Park, 2110 W. Curtis Rd., from Saturday, June 12, to Monday, June 14.

The sites will now have split shifts: open 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. before pausing for eight hours, then resuming vaccinations from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. PCHD previously operated the mobile units from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Forecast high temperatures of more than 105 degrees for a sustained period are the reason for the change, officials said, citing concerns that the heat will be unsafe for clients, workers and volunteers.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for the Tucson area from late Saturday morning to Wednesday night.

These mobile coronavirus vaccination units will continue to operate in Pima County through June 26. PCHD has yet to decide where else it will set up the mobile units, but it does plan to use air-conditioned indoor spaces that will likely be near locations recently used.

The pima.gov/covid19vaccine website has updates on the FEMA units and all vaccination sites.

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Pima County's vaccine call center will also try to reach those in need of their second shots about the change in hours via phone.

All FEMA locations have been offering Arizona Lottery $2 scratcher tickets with a maximum prize of $10,000 and assorted smaller cash prizes for those receiving their initial COVID-19 vaccinations.

Of Pima County's roughly 1 million residents, about 460,000 have now received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine — about 44 percent of the population. About 401,000 here are fully vaccinated, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Across the state, about 47 percent of Arizonans have received at least one shot.

In the county, 29 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Thursday, among 370 new infections reported across the state. There have been 17,741 state residents who have died from the virus, with 2,416 people in Pima County dead from the disease. Four new deaths were added to the county total Thursday.

Bennito L. Kelty is TucsonSentinel.com’s IDEA reporter, focusing on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access stories, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Vaccinations at Tucson Medical Center on Jan. 15, 2021.