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AARP AARP States Arizona Advocacy

AZ Covid-19 Vaccine Letter Sent To Governor Doug Ducey


January 26, 2021

Dear Governor Ducey:

AARP Arizona, on behalf of our over 900,000 members and all older Arizonans, appreciates the effort you have undertaken to address the unprecedented public health and economic crisis we face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  As millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines are shipped across the country, it is critical to ramp up production and distribution so that everyone who wishes to be vaccinated can do so.  Until that time, we acknowledge the many challenges Arizona must confront in determining how to equitably, safely and effectively distribute COVID-19 vaccines, and we offer the following recommendations.

Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 95 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 have been among people 50 and older. The data clearly shows that the older people are, the higher risk they face if they contract COVID-19. Given that older individuals are at a greater risk of death from COVID-19, we strongly urge you to ensure that Arizonans age 50 and older are prioritized to receive a vaccine.  These individuals must be given priority access to vaccines, in addition to those individuals receiving care in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.  It is our understanding that all residents who wanted a vaccine in SNF have had the first dose and soon will receive the 2nd dose this is encouraging. It is our understanding that now Assisted Living Facilities and Memory Care facilities are starting to be scheduled to receive the 1st dose and hopefully all have received some form of communication to lessen the anxiety and uncertainty.

We also strongly urge the state to prioritize those individuals who receive long-term services and supports in their own homes and communities. For years, the long-term care system has been shifting away from institutional care in nursing homes to home and community-based services (HCBS). Here in Arizona, the 2019 HCBS report noted that, of the individuals receiving long-term services and supports through AHCCCS, 62.52% receive HCBS in the home, while 26.75% receive HCBS in settings such as assisted living facilities, group homes, and veterans homes (AHCCCS, 2020). For these reasons, we strongly urge you to also prioritize older people receiving, and the staff providing, care in these settings to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

In order to increase public awareness of vaccine allocations and improve confidence in a fair distribution process, it is important that all Arizonans have access to accurate and transparent information.  For these reasons, we urge you to regularly post on a public website information and updates on vaccine administration including:

  • the numbers and percentages of older Arizonans, by race and ethnicity, that have been vaccinated;
  • a clear and easy-to-understand schedule and process by which individuals may seek and obtain a vaccine;
  • the numbers and percentages of long-term care residents, by facility, that have received their first and second doses of vaccines;
  • the numbers and percentages of long-term care staff, by facility, that have received their first and second doses of vaccines.

Additionally, AARP Arizona urges you to ensure that all providers are fully complying with established state procedures for vaccine distribution and prioritization. We implore you to investigate and take swift action against anyone who attempts to commit fraud, including by inappropriately selling the vaccine or intentionally providing vaccines to those who do not meet qualifying criteria in an attempt to circumvent the distribution process.  Public confidence in the vaccine and its fair distribution is dependent on the state’s strong oversight and enforcement.

We are hearing from many of our members across the state that, regardless of the location, the current system to schedule a vaccination is difficult to navigate where many are not able to secure appointments. Some report trying all day, or for multiple days with no success, and it leaves them feeling helpless.

People are being told to “keep trying” in hopes “you may be able to get a cancelled appointment slot.” The DHS site requires one to re-enter the insurance information with each try.  

Many older Arizonans are not computer savvy. Some of the members we hear from say when they are able to get through to the State’s toll-free telephone number, or 211, they are only told they need to go to the website. Those that don’t have email or a computer are transferred to only get dropped, and again are left feeling helpless. They turn on the TV to see people younger than them getting vaccines. This is a system that is setting our most vulnerable in despair.

Those that do get the first vaccine are often left in limbo about the second vaccine leaving them with a sense of uncertainty. Some leave with an appointment that has been set up with people on tablets, while others leave with a card and a date to come back with the name and date written in but not a time. They get a follow up email to sign up for an appointment to only not be able to secure an appointment. Again, they are left confused without any clarification.

This is unacceptable to AARP and should be to all Arizonans. The state of Arizona can and must do better.

We cannot stress enough how eager people are in Arizona to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, which offers so much promise for a return to normalcy. There is incredible demand from our members for more information about when and how they can get a vaccine. AARP Arizona stands ready to work with you and support your efforts to get information to people as quickly as possible.

If you have questions or wish to discuss, please contact me at or Brendon Blake at


Dana Marie Kennedy, MSW State Director AARP Arizona

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