Green Valley to host free COVID-19 & flu shot clinics
Pima County vaccination pop-ups to start Wednesday; kids can get free COVID boosters are clinics
Pima County children and elderly people will have more opportunities to protect themselves against COVID-19 and influenza, as both infections are spreading at more intense rates than normal this winter. The county Health Department has started offering bivalent COVID boosters for children at their clinics, and will host a series of four pop-up vaccination clinics in Green Valley aimed at reaching people older than 65 because both age groups have at higher risk of serious cases of the respiratory infections that are circulating.
Bivalent boosters, which protect against COVID-19 variants, were approved for children as young as 6 months and as old as 5 years last week by the Food and Drug Administration for Moderna and Pfizer, shots but the Pfizer bivalent booster is only available for children as old as 4 while Moderna can be taken by 5-year-olds.
The bivalent boosters for children are available at all three Pima County clinics, and appointments are recommended in advance. Children's boosters are given in smaller doses than teens or adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and they can receive other vaccines at the same time.
The clinics offering the children's bivalent boosters are:
- Theresa Lee Health Center, 1493 W. Commerce Court, 520-724-7900
- North Clinic, 3550 N. 1st Ave., 520-724-2880
- East Clinic, 6920 E. Broadway, 520-724-9650
The four pop-up vaccine clinics in Green Valley will be open to the general public, but Dr. Theresa Cullen, the directory of PCHD, said Wednesday that they’re part of an effort to make sure people 65 and older are vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu, as they’re especially vulnerable for death or hospitalization from either virus.
Adults 65 and older make up almost a third of all COVID-19 cases in Pima County as well as 44% of hospitalizations from the virus, according to the PCHD. Nationally, more than 90% of COVID-19 deaths occurred in this age group during the week ending on Nov 26, according to the CDC.
The events take place during the next three weeks with the first one on Dec. 21 and the last on Jan. 6. Two of the events will be at Valley Assistance Services. All the events will be indoors, and all services will be free.
- Wednesday, Dec. 21, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 2951 S. Camino Mercado
- Thursday, Dec. 22, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the Valley Presbyterian Church, 2800 S. Camino Del Sol
- Wednesday, Dec. 28, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Valley Assistance Services, 3950 S. Camino del Heroe
- Friday, Jan. 6, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. also at Valley Assistance Services
At-home COVID-19 test kits will also be offered for free at the events. Every Pima County library offers free COVID-19 test kits for free. Testing positive for COVID either at a clinic or at home can make a person eligible for free antiviral Paxlovid or Lagevrio treatment through the county’s test-to-treat program.
The number of new cases of COVID-19, flu and RSV, another respiratory disease, have been rising in Pima County and throughout Arizona. The number of flu cases in Arizona has been as much as 10 times the five-year average, while RSV has been affecting children and pediatric hospital bed availability in Pima County.
No vaccine exists for RSV, but people can take flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time. The bivalent COVID-19 booster, which protects against variants of the virus, is recommended for anyone aged 6 months or older if at least two months have passed since they received their original booster shot.
The county is also continuing COVID vaccination at its public health clinics, including the Abrams Public Health Center, and through mobile events. They also offer in-person testing at the Abrams Center.
Cullen emphasized on Wednesday that people strongly consider enrolling in the county’s free test-to-treat program. Paxlovid, the COVID antiviral developed by Pfizer, is expected to lose government funding next year and become expensive.
COVID, flu & RSV numbers
The Centers for Disease Control had rated Pima County and every other county in Arizona except Mohave as having a “high” level of COVID-19 spreading in the community during the past few weeks, but that rating was lowered to "medium" for Pima County and most other Arizona counties as of Friday. Mohave is now rated as "high."
The CDC bases their ratings on the number of new reported COVID cases and hospital beds in use by COVID patients. Pima County is rated “high” because it reported 173 new infections and 11 new hospital admissions for COVID per 100,000 people during a seven-day period. Pima County is also reporting that 7% of inpatient hospital beds are being used by patients admitted with COVID.
Arizona was one of the most severely rated states by the CDC for COVID spread, as it was the only state in the West with every county rated “high” or “medium” and continues to be the only western state without any counties rated as "low."
The number of COVID cases statewide increased from 10,630 new cases the week ending on Dec. 4 to 11,550 new cases on the week of Dec. 11, according to the most recent AZDHS COVID data. Arizona also reported 107 deaths from COVID on the week of Dec. 11.
Pima County reported 1,811 new COVID cases on the week of Dec. 11, up from 1,648 new cases the week before. The county also reported 24 deaths from the virus during the same week.
Arizona reported 5,181 new cases of flu during the week ending on Dec. 10, up from 4,792 new flu cases of flu on the week of Dec. 3, according to the most recent reports from the Arizona Department of Health Services. That’s compared with an average of 478 flu cases for the week of Dec. 10 based on case rates from the past five years.
Pima County reported 488 new flu cases during the same week, compared with a five-year average of 52 new cases.
Arizona also saw 1,202 new cases of RSV for the same week ending on Dec. 10, which is a decline from 1,503 new RSV cases on the week of Dec. 3, according to recent AZDHS reports on the virus. The statewide five-year average for the week of Dec. 10 is 106 RSV cases.
Pima County had 116 new RSV cases for the same week compared with a five-year average of 12 new cases for that week.
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.