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PHOENIX (AP) — Numerous doctors’ offices and clinics in Arizona will be able to directly obtain COVID-19 vaccines starting next week, state health officials said Friday.

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, announced eligible physicians and local health care providers will no longer have to rely on allocations from their county public health department.

This means nearly 1,200 providers registered with the state can order up to 200 doses within a two-week period from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They will receive the Moderna vaccine because it has less complex storage requirements. The hope is that being able to go to a primary care doctor will “be a major driver,” Christ said.

“Based on our community listening sessions, people indicated that a recommendation from their health care provider, that would be one of the things that would drive them to get vaccinated,” Christ told reporters during a virtual briefing.

State officials are expecting 100,000 doses to be available for these smaller providers to order directly during the first week.

The decline in vaccine demand in the past month has been an ongoing issue in Arizona. State health officials have been working with community groups on pop-up vaccination events in underserved areas like Yuma and south Phoenix. Some of the strategies include telephonic town halls, door-to-door canvassing and targeted social media posts.

Christ remains hopeful herd immunity can be achieved, especially if those ages 12 to 15 will eventually be allowed to get vaccinated.

Overall, more than 2.9 million people, or around 40% of Arizona’s population, have had at least one vaccine shot, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard. More than 2.2 million have been fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the state reported Friday another 844 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 19 deaths. The latest virus numbers bring the pandemic totals to 862,497 cases and 17,324 deaths.

Pinal County reported 54 new cases, bringing the county total to 51,316.

The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19-related reasons dipped slightly to 618. Of those, 189 remain in the ICU.

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