COVID-19 vaccinations, UA

Linda Wills, 71, receives her first vaccination shot at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., on February 10, 2021. The university will serve as the state’s first 24/7 vaccination site in Southern Arizona, dramatically increasing vaccinations across the Tucson metro area starting on Feb. 18.

If you have some extra hours and want to help with COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Tucson, volunteers are in high demand to help keep operations running smoothly at vaccine sites. 

To help out you have a few different options — and yes, volunteers are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine after volunteering for a certain amount of time. 

Volunteers help with a variety of roles at the vaccine points of distribution, or PODs, ranging from greeting people when they arrive for their vaccinations to actually administering shots.

For the latter you'll need to be a medical professional, but there are plenty of other opportunities for those without any medical background whatsoever.

The state-run site at the University of Arizona and other sites in Tucson run by Pima County, have different volunteer registration systems.

The UA site in particular has an urgent need for volunteers. The county also frequently emails requests for volunteers to help at its three fixed sites and pop-up clinics. 

Here's how to register to volunteer at the vaccine sites in Tucson. 

To volunteer at the University of Arizona site run by the Arizona Department of Health Services

The University of Arizona is recruiting medical and non-medical volunteers to help with both its drive-thru and walk-in vaccination clinics on campus and has an urgent need to fill slots and keep the process running as smooth as possible. It takes about 200 volunteers to support the vaccination efforts on campus and so far only about half that number or less are signed up for this week and through April. 

Volunteers are especially needed to help fill evening shifts from 5-11 p.m. Volunteers are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for helping at the site for 36 hours, but they may be able to receive a shot after their first shift or shortly thereafter. 

"As more volunteers have been vaccinated, they don't always come back to do more shifts," says Shipherd Reed a spokesman for the UA Mel & Enid College of Public Health. "This is an expected drop off from the initial surge of volunteers, but the need has grown acute now."

Non-medical volunteers are needed to fill roles as greeters, screeners, runners, volunteer coordinators and to observe people for reactions after they receive their shot. Anyone who is 18 years or older can sign up to help. 

Volunteers will be trained for their assignment when they arrive for their shift. Some jobs require standing and walking and others can be done while sitting, and the UA says it can make accommodations for these considerations. Shifts are available seven days a week and are six hours long from either 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. You can find a list of FAQs and additional information about volunteering at the University of Arizona POD here

To sign up, fill out the UA's volunteer registration form online and you will receive follow up communication with instructions for signing up for a shift. The confirmation email you'll receive says it could take up to two weeks but follow-up instructions will likely be emailed much sooner than that. 

As part of the volunteer registration process, you will also be asked to sign up as a UA Designated Campus Colleague and complete a brief HIPPA Training Certification.

Volunteers with pharmacy backgrounds are needed to help with vaccine prep, administration and handling, according a recent Facebook post. To volunteer in this capacity email Renee Hernandez at reneed@arizona.edu for more information. 

Volunteers are asked to park in the Cherry Avenue garage and will be given a voucher at the end of their shift to cover the parking cost. 

To volunteer at the vaccination sites run by Pima County

Volunteers are also needed to help support the county-run sites at Banner-Kino, Tucson Medical Center, the Tucson Convention Center and at pop-up clinics at different places throughout the county. 

Non-medical volunteers help as greeters, supply runners, with traffic control and with post-vaccine observation. Shifts can vary from five or six hours to a full day depending on the needs of the site, says Cecilia Nguyen a volunteer coordinator for the health department

Non-medical volunteers should apply online through the Arizona Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (AZ-ESAR-VHP). Register using the blue "Register Now" button, select "Add Organizations" and make sure you select Pima County. It is super important to add Pima County as one of the organizations you want to volunteer with, if you don't you won't receive notification about opportunities at the county's vaccination PODs. 

When you register, you'll be asked to fill out a form with information about yourself and you will be notified by email about volunteer opportunities when they are available.

Nguyen says the response from the community has been "incredible" and about 4,000 volunteers have registered so far. 

If you do register and don't see an opportunity to sign up for a shift emailed to you immediately, don't be discouraged. The needs vary at each site and can change depending on vaccine availability. 

"If they don't hear from us... it doesn't mean they're not needed, it just means we haven't had to send out new opportunities," Nguyen says. 

Medical personnel including doctors, nurses, dentists, nurse practitioners, chiropractors, veterinarians, physician assistants and behavioral health professionals are asked to register to volunteer online through the Medical Reserve Corps of Southern Arizona. A coordinator from MRCSA will contact you with more information after your application is submitted. 

Volunteers can receive a vaccination after working for 36 hours at a county-run site. 

Find more information about volunteering at the Pima County's vaccination PODs here


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