Dignity Health ran a dry run Dec. 11 at Chandler-Gilbert Community College of its plan for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The community college will serve as a distribution site when the vaccine arrives in Maricopa County—which is expected to occur this week.

On Dec. 11, Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the first emergency-use authorization for a vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19.

"It's a whole new type of nursing," said Heather James, director of nursing for Dignity Health, on Dec. 11 at the Chandler-Gilbert dry run. "This isn't something I've done before."

Chandler-Gilbert Community College will be one of five distribution sites in the Valley where designated frontline health care workers will be able to get vaccinated.

Health care workers will need to register with the county, James said. The site is planning to accommodate 36,000 vaccinations over the course of 10 days, James said.


"You're trying to respond [to the pandemic] and get everybody vaccinated as quickly as possible," James said.

Maricopa County announced its vaccine distribution plan last week as a three-phased approach with health care workers and long-term care residents to be among the first receiving the vaccine locally. Phase 1 for the county's distribution plan is split into three sections: 1a, 1b and 1c. Following health care workers, including emergency services, and long-term care residents receiving the vaccine, the county plans to distribute the vaccine to adults in congregate settings, such as jails, prisons or medical facilities; law enforcement; teachers; and child care workers, essential services and critical industry workers.

"Continue to pray for your health care workers out there, because although this is a welcome thing that we have been waiting for; they are all very tired," James said. "Our frontline workers, our ICU staff, our nurses—they are all just tired. So, they are going to take care of anyone who comes in and all of our COVID patients. All of our work continues plus this added work. Wear your mask; wash your hands; socially distance—really abide by that because in the long run that is what is going to get us out of this."