COVID-19 Vaccinations Begin at UArizona

cars line up under tents on UArizona Mall

A drive-thru vaccination clinic opened on the University of Arizona Mall on Jan. 19.

Chris Richards/University of Arizona

Pima County has begun administering Phase 1B vaccinations, and starting this week the University of Arizona will be the designated distribution point for the Phase 1B priority subpopulation of teachers and child care workers, including K-12 and higher education teachers and staff, as well as student teachers.

In order to vaccinate the population as quickly as possible, each vaccination site in the county will prioritize a specific population within the Phase 1B.1 group. While anyone from any group is welcome at any site, K-12 and higher education employees and child care workers are the priority for the Pima County University of Arizona POD.

The university will vaccinate approximately 1,000 1B.1 educators this week. Today through Thursday, 132 K-12 teachers will be vaccinated at the UArizona site each day. On both Wednesday and Thursday, 42 UArizona workers will also get the vaccine. On Friday, 250 child care workers and 250 K-12 teachers will be vaccinated at the UArizona site.

Phase 1B.1 of the county's immunization plan also includes:

  • People aged 75 years and older due to the high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID‐19
  • Protective service occupations (law enforcement, corrections, firefighters, and other emergency response staff, 911 call center staff and trainees in high-risk settings)
  • Education and child care providers (K12 and higher education teachers and staff, student teachers)

"We are working closely with our Pima County Health Department colleagues to ensure that our partners in the education sector are able to get the vaccine safely and efficiently," said Mona Arora, vaccine task force leader for the University of Arizona.

The county's goal is to complete 300,000 Phase 1B vaccinations by the end of March. The university aims to vaccinate about 53,000 people with the Pfizer vaccine.

President Robert C. Robbins vaccinates a police officer

President Robert C. Robbins vaccinates a UArizona police officer at Campus Health prior to the opening of the drive-thru vaccination site.

Chris Richards/University of Arizona

To accommodate the rapid expansion of immunization, the county is planning multiple drive-thru vaccination centers, including one on the University of Arizona Mall. A walk-up clinic will also be held in the Ina Gittings Building, located at 1737 E. University Blvd, Room 129. for those without access to a vehicle. Appointments are required for vaccination.

"The University of Arizona succeeded last year in developing one of the country's most effective operations for providing diagnostic and antibody tests for COVID-19 to our campus and the community, and we are well-positioned to do the same for delivering COVID-19 vaccines," said Dr. Michael D. Dake, senior vice president for UArizona Health Sciences. "We look forward to contributing to the combined county and state efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible to help put an end to this devastating disease."

Registration Available Online or Via Phone

Those eligible for vaccination must register and make an appointment. Appointments may be limited initially, but capacity will expand once the site is fully operational, Arora said.

Family members and dependents who are not in Phase 1B must wait until their group is eligible for vaccination.

To register online:


When you register, you will fill out a survey that includes your contact information and you will see a messaging saying you will be contacted soon.

To register over the phone:
Call 520-222-0119 Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 

The University of Arizona POD dates and times:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 19, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (132 K-12 teachers)
  • Wednesday, Jan. 20, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (132 K-12 teachers + 42 UArizona educators)
  • Thursday, Jan. 21, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. (132 K-12 teachers + 42 UArizona educators)
  • Friday, Jan. 22, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (last scheduled appointment at 2:45 p.m.) (500 Phase 1B.1 K-12 teachers +  educators in Pima County)

How the Process Will Work at UArizona

Those planning to receive their vaccine at UArizona will first need to make an appointment online or over the phone. When you go to your appointment, you'll need to bring your health insurance card and proof of employment, such as an employee ID, pay stub or letter from a family who utilizes your in-home services. When you arrive in your car on the University of Arizona Mall, you will be instructed to park. You can download a map of the site here.

You'll receive your vaccine, then wait about 15 minutes so that health care staff can monitor for any adverse reactions.

You will then receive information about registering for your second dose. It is important that the second dose be from the same manufacturer as the first dose. The UArizona site will be distributing the Pfizer vaccine.

After vaccination, especially the second dose, some people might feel sick. But that's an important part of the body learning to fight the real virus if exposed, said UArizona immunobiologist Deepta Bhattacharya, a member of the university's BIO5 Institute.

"Protection begins about two weeks after the first shot for about 80% of people," Bhattacharya said. "About a week after the second shot, protection goes up to about 95% of people who receive the vaccine. This is, of course, great, and the more people that get the vaccine, the faster the transmission rates in our community will fall. But it is also important to keep in mind that 95% vaccine efficacy means that there is a one in 20 chance that you will not be fully protected. Since community transmission rates in Arizona and Pima County are currently very high, it is wise to remain careful until the cases here decline. And as more and more people get vaccinated, they will (decline)."

UArizona is uniquely situated to accommodate rapid vaccine distribution. The university houses a freezer farm that can store the vaccines at minus 80 degrees Celsius, as required by Pfizer. The ultracold storage facility can store over 1.6 million doses.

Visit the county's COVID-19 vaccination page for more information. Find answers to frequently asked questions about the vaccine distribution plan here.


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