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Finding solutions: Grand Canyon, Tusayan receive Phase 1a COVID-19 vaccinations

Tusayan Fire Chief Greg Brush receives the vaccination Jan. 7 at the Grand Canyon Clinic. (Photo/ Tusayan Fire District)

Tusayan Fire Chief Greg Brush receives the vaccination Jan. 7 at the Grand Canyon Clinic. (Photo/ Tusayan Fire District)

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — The first COVID-19 vaccinations at Grand Canyon were administered last week for a small group of National Park Service Advanced Life Support providers and Tusayan first responders.

“This is a historic moment and signals a new and very positive phase in the pandemic,” stated Grand Canyon Public Affairs Office in a recent newsletter.

Tusayan Fire Chief Greg Brush said the department was grateful to receive the vaccination and encouraged others to get the shot once they are able.


Grand Canyon Fire Chief and Paramedic Jim Warren rolls up his sleeve to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination. (Photo/NPS, A. Sherman)

“We appreciate the chance to get the vaccine for tier 1a first responders. Thanks to North Country HealthCare for making this happen,” he said. “Whenever you have your chance to get vaccinated, one bit of advice, ‘get the bloody shot as soon as you can,’ let’s end this COVID-19 era.”

At Grand Canyon, North Country HealthCare is administering the COVID-19 vaccine based upon CDC, state and Coconino County Health and Human Services criteria. The first group to receive the vaccine, categorized as ‘1A’, consists of healthcare providers, first responders and healthcare support occupations.

According to Grand Canyon National Park, the clinic has contacted 1A staff directly to schedule their initial vaccination.

The COVID-19 vaccine requires a 28-day follow up booster shot to be fully effective.

“The key to this process is patience; immunizations have already begun in health care settings but it will take many months to complete immunizations of the general population,” the NPS said.

Priority groupings for the vaccine have been created by the state and county, based on CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 testing sites:

• The Grand Canyon Clinic has new hours for COVID-19 testing.

Testing is available on Wednesdays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The clinic can provide testing anytime during clinic hours if a healthcare provider feels a patient needs to be tested.

• Testing is available at Ft. Tuthill County Park in Flagstaff, Monday- Friday from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m.-noon.

More information about testing at Coconino County is availale at

National Park Service concessions staff have coordinated with concessioners on the South Rim, Grand Canyon Conservancy, the Grand Canyon Community Library, local bank, Grand Canyon School, Grand Canyon Food Pantry, Kaibab Learning Center and Paul Revere Trasnport in order for them to identify any tier 1B employees and to coordinate with the county and the clinic for vaccinations.

“We urge you to plan to get your vaccination and follow up booster shot,” Grand Canyon officials said. “We will not succeed in beating this pandemic unless a large majority of our community receives the vaccination. So please, get the vaccination to protect yourself, your family, loved ones and our community.”

Coconino County Phase 1b

Starting Jan. 8, Coconino County Health and Human Services opened vaccination appointments at select sites to priority populations within Phase 1b.

Populations within Phase 1b include education and childcare workers, law enforcement and protective services and individuals 75 and older.

Vaccination opportunities will open at a later time for other populations within Phase 1b, including essential workers and adults with high-risk conditions in congregate settings.

Currently, the vaccine is being administered to individuals within Phase 1a including healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents and staff.

According to Coconino County, vaccine supplies continue to be limited and appointments are available on a first come first served basis at the Fort Tuthill vaccination site in Flagstaff. Appointments are required.

There is no cost to receive the vaccine, however, individuals with insurance should bring their insurance card. No one will be turned away for lack of insurance.

Individuals without internet access and those age 75 years and older who require assistance with registration can call the COVID-19 Information Line at (928) 679-7300.

Proof of eligibility within the Phase 1a and Phase 1b priority groups is required.

Those seeking vaccination are asked to bring proof of occupation such as a paystub, employment badge, a letter from an employer, or a driver’s license or ID displaying date of birth. Those without proper eligibility identification may be turned away.

The Fort Tuthill vaccination site is currently open to the defined eligible groups and is not open to the general public.

The COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available require two doses, 21-28 days apart.

The first dose starts building protection. The second dose, is needed to get the best lasting protection the vaccine has to offer.

Some side effects, such as redness, swelling or pain at the injection site, low grade fever, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle or joint pain, can occur following COVID-19 vaccination and are normal signs that your body is building protection.

According to Coconino County Health and Human Services, most-vaccination symptoms are usually mild to moderate in severity and occur within the first three days of vaccination and resolve within one to two days of onset.

None of the current COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19, according to Coconino County.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for two COVID-19 vaccines which have been shown to be safe and effective as determined by data from the manufacturers and findings from large clinical trials.

According to the CDC, this data demonstrate that the known and potential benefits of this vaccine outweigh the known and potential harms of becoming infected with the coronavirus disease.

Vaccinated individuals should continue to follow all current infection prevention.

The exact timeline of vaccine distribution among Phase 1 priority groups and Phase 2 and 3 remaining populations will depend on factors such as how many vaccine types have been approved, how many doses have been manufactured and allocated to Coconino County, how many individuals decide to get vaccinated, and other logistical factors. As more vaccine is available to more groups of people, more locations will open to provide vaccines.

More information and registration links is available at

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