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Members of ASU faculty among first in new phase of COVID-19 vaccinations

Second wave to protect educators, law enforcement and child care professionals

Alexandra Navrotsky getting a vaccine
January 11, 2021

Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2021 year in review.

“It’s a start.”

That was the thought of Arizona State University Professor Alexandra Navrotsky, one of the first people to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus in the second phase of state-run vaccinations.

At the new large-scale vaccination site at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Monday, Arizona officials performed vaccinations on a group of educators and law enforcement, members of the new 1B vaccination eligibility phase. The site will open at midnight Jan. 12 and run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by appointment.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “We are transitioning to the second phase of vaccine distribution in many counties, including Maricopa.”

The first phase was dedicated to health care workers and support ocupations, emergency medical services workers, and staff and residents of long-term care facilities. In that phase, 152,000 Arizonans have been vaccinated, thousands with both doses, according to Christ.

The second phase will focus on educators, child care workers, law enforcement and people age 75 and older. Anyone seeking vaccination in this phase must provide proof of employment, according to a DHS spokesman. 

Navrotsky was one of two ASU faculty members to be vaccinated Monday.

“I’m glad to get my shot, and I’m glad if there’s any way in which I do gives enough publicity so more people will register to get their vaccines,” Navrotsky said. “I’m doing myself a service, and hopefully I’m doing the university and the state a service.”

Navrotsky is a chemist with appointments in both the School of Molecular Sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Carlos Velez-Ibanez was the other ASU faculty member to receive a shot. Velez-Ibanez is a Regents Professor in the School of Transborder Studies and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

“It is great to see vaccines shipping out and becoming more widely available,” said ASU Executive Vice President and University Provost Mark Searle. “Distribution centers like this will help make sure we can effectively and efficiently give people access to the vaccinations. We want to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible, and we encourage the ASU community to get vaccinated when your turn comes up.”

Most of those vaccinated Monday afternoon were state troopers. The stadium site is capable of vaccinating 6,000 to 12,000 people per day, officials said.

“This sets the stage for later this year, when the challenge will be to get millions of vaccinations to build the herd immunity needed to defeat COVID-19,” Christ said.

Cases in Arizona continue to rise.

“Regrettably, deaths from COVID-19 have followed these same trends,” Christ said. “Like all of you, I look forward to the day when anyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine can get one.”

Until a majority of the population is vaccinated — officials suggested early summer — health officials urged people to continue to wear face coverings, practice social distancing and wash hands frequently.

Top photo: Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, gives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to ASU Professor Alexandra Navrotsky, of the School of Molecular Sciences, on Jan. 11, 2021, at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale. Beginning Tuesday, the AzDHS will run a 24-hour vaccination site there for those with a Phase 1A or 1B designation who register in advance. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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