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FLORENCE — The Pinal County Board of Supervisors voted to send a letter to state health officials to ask for more COVID-19 vaccine in Pinal County.

The letter says the county has received less than 16,000 doses, far less than it needs to vaccinate the 75,662 people in the first two priority groups. The letter continues that the county has a growing list of health care providers qualified to give the vaccine — 26 this week — but without enough medicine, “we are left with providers ready to vaccinate but no vaccine to administer.”

“We’re looking for guidance on how to get more vaccine; we appreciate your support,” Tascha Spears, director of the Pinal County Public Health District, told the board Wednesday.

The letter is signed by Supervisors Chairman Steve Miller, R-Casa Grande. He asked that the letter be copied to the state and federal legislators representing Pinal County, so they all know “we’re trying to do everything we can to get more vaccine; if you get it to us, we’ll get it administered,” Miller said. “I want everybody to know we’re good at what we do.”

Vice Chairman Mike Goodman, R-San Tan Valley, asked how schools can stay open if teachers can’t get vaccinated. Educators, law enforcement and other essential workers are in the second priority category, or “1B.” Spears said that group also includes the county’s most vulnerable residents, age 75 and older.

Supervisor Jeff Serdy, R-Apache Junction, said he believes his district has the most older residents, including winter visitors who apparently also qualify to receive the vaccine here. Serdy asked how citizens can put more pressure on the federal government — the one that actually ships the vaccine — to send more to Pinal County. “Can they write letters or make calls?”

Spears replied that when the county received its first 10,000 doses the last week of December, it asked the Arizona Department of Health Services about winter visitors, and ADHS said that population needs to be vaccinated. She said she asked ADHS again Tuesday if allocations were going to be determined based on census data, or if the county can provide further information that indicates the number of winter visitors.

Spears said the state’s chief immunization officer replied the state has continually been asking the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about this, and it continues to say winter visitors must be vaccinated.

On the Pinal County vaccination page, each provider has its preferred way to make appointments, which may be a phone number or registration link. Early in the process, one provider said it would accept walk-ins. After hundreds of people showed up that changed, Spears told the board.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.