The current national vaccination effort, from the blindingly fast R & D and corresponding clinical trials to the vast infrastructure needs and impossibly complex logistics of getting shots in arms, is the modern-day equivalent of the Manhattan Project, with some key differences.  Today’s objective – to save lives – is 180 degrees opposite that established over 80 years ago, and rather than just one country in the hunt for a solution there are five and the number is sure to grow.

Now that the COVID-19 vaccination effort is ramping up in Arizona, I have renewed hope that we are on a positive path towards a healthier community and economic recovery. Various vaccine locations are now available throughout the Valley for people who meet Arizona’s eligibility requirements during the current phase 1B. I am pleased to see there has already been over 430,000 residents have received at least one vaccine does given in Maricopa County alone, and over 1,217,126 vaccines administered state wide. These numbers increase everyday as health officials work to increase vaccine availability.

I am proud to say that I have had the opportunity to do my part in getting our community healthy and our businesses thriving again by joining the Maricopa County Public Health Medical Reserve Corps as a volunteer.  It has been an exhilarating experience to help on the front lines of this pandemic, working towards our best hope for recovery, getting people vaccinated. Over a number of days, I have had the opportunity to join medical professionals, hospital staff, city employees, and other members of our community in this incredible undertaking. Long before sunrise, a mobile city of sorts springs to life with a buzz of activity as goals for the day are discussed and duties assigned to the ensure we will be ready to open the lanes safely and on time. Of paramount concern is our mission to safely administer hundreds of doses while not wasting one drop of vaccine. This means that everything and everyone must run at peak efficiency, every single day, and these incredible women and men do just that.

On one occasion, after the last car had pulled through and we were prepping the site for the next day’s operations, I was startled to see that I had accumulated 23,000 steps in just 10 hours. When I mentioned this to one of the medical providers, she politely told me to try it in 110-degree heat. What I learned subsequently is that many of these first responders have been in the same location since early spring and into the hot summer months. However, at that time they were a COVID testing facility and everyone was decked out in full PPE gear from morning to night with no light at the end of the tunnel. I will never forget the look in her eyes as she talked about those early days of the pandemic and her joy of having the opportunity to now be on the other side today, giving people hope.

In the early stages of the vaccination rollout, many Phoenix businesses have several questions about where their employees may be in the process. How do I register for the vaccine? What phase are my workers prioritized in? My business is approved to be vaccinated, now what? I invite you to use the following resources the Greater Phoenix Chamber has designed to help you navigate through the vaccine rollout.

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources for Your Business – Greater Phoenix Chamber

We must be steadfast in our commitment to constantly improving the vaccine rollout. As more vaccines are approved, I urge our leaders to focus on making this process as efficient as possible, and ensuring that we are focused on reaching the most vulnerable among us—the poor, disabled, elderly and people of color who are vastly underrepresented.

As more vaccines become available, and more Arizonans meet the eligibility requirements, I urge you to make an appointment to receive the vaccine through Maricopa County’s Vaccine Data Dashboard and/or Arizona Department of Health Services’ Vaccine Patient Portal. Throughout the vaccination phases, I urge the community to be patient and continue to maintain social distancing and healthy sanitation efforts.  I also invite businesses to take the Healthy AtoZ Pledge to follow local, state, and federal safety measures designed to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19, restoring the health and vitality of our community and our economy.  If we work together and stay positive, I am confident a more prosperous, healthy Arizona.

Posted by Annelise Patterson