In early 2021, Governor Doug Ducey called on ADHS to open a first-of-its-kind, 24-hour COVID-19 mass-vaccination site at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.
The timeline was bold, even audacious: Have the site up and running in less than a week.
But with public safety and health top priorities throughout his tenure, the governor pointed to an urgent problem that required an innovative approach: Arizona needed to get a lot more COVID-19 vaccine doses out of freezers and into the arms of those clamoring to receive them – and quickly.
The State Farm Stadium site launched Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, with assistance from partners including the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, Arizona State University, Blue Cross® Blue Shield® of Arizona, and the Arizona Cardinals.
Less than a month later, with tens of thousands of people having been vaccinated there, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris made a virtual visit to State Farm Stadium and praised the operation as a national model. “You’re saving people’s lives short-term and long-term,” the President told my predecessor, Dr. Cara Christ.
Phoenix New Times later honored the State Farm Stadium partnership as Best Team Effort in its Best of 2021 edition.
With Governor Ducey’s encouragement, ADHS and its partners didn’t stop there. The state’s mass-vaccination model expanded in the following months to include other sites in the Valley as well as operations in Tucson, Flagstaff, and Yuma. Answering the governor’s call, ADHS and partners worked constantly to improve online registration, reduce wait times, and increase the number of vaccine doses administered.
When the effort ended in June as vaccines became readily available throughout ArIzona, state-run sites had administered 1.6 million doses of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine.
Governor Ducey has consistently challenged state agencies to innovate and improve their value to customers, especially the people of Arizona. Among the many notable achievements during this time, the state’s mass-vaccination effort is special to those of us at ADHS. It changed lives.
As we look toward a new administration, I am grateful for Governor Ducey’s foresight and encouragement of ADHS throughout these eight years, with COVID-19 vaccination being just one example.