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Arizona county offering vaccines to everyone over 18

Arizona county offering vaccines to everyone over 18
© Getty

An Arizona county opted to change vaccine eligibility requirements to include everyone over the age of 18 in an effort to encourage more residents to get vaccinated.

Gila County in Arizona, which is located just east of Phoenix, made the decision after having a hard time getting people 65 and older to get the vaccine, according to CNN.

"We were struggling to find folks within the 65 plus category to sign up for the vaccine," Michael O'Driscoll, Gila's director of health and emergency management, told the news outlet.

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In February, O'Driscoll requested that vaccines become open to more of the general population. This change was approved by the state later that month.

As of the end of February, the county entered phase two of administering vaccines due to its success, CNN reported. As of Thursday, Gila County also opened up vaccinations to people who work in the county but may not live there.

County officials also told the outlet that their efforts to spread the word about eligibility through an aggressive communications campaign has aided in their success so far.

The Gila County Health and Emergency Management Covid Command Center also partnered with other health care organizations and hospitals and doctors to increase efforts to get vaccines to the community.

"We received such a tremendous support from those partners that we had about six partners," O'Driscoll told CNN.

The county has also seen a significant decrease in its number of positive COVID-19 cases as a result. The Gila County Health and Emergency Management Facebook page on Thursday reported a total of 3,885 confirmed coronavirus cases and 154 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Today we have only two positive cases, where about a month ago we were up to 60 a day," O'Driscoll told CNN.