On the front lines of COVID-19 mass vaccination efforts

Published March 9, 2021

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) joined an unprecedented public-private partnership to support its community in recovering from one of the most staggering public health crises in the country's history. The result is an exemplary effort that is vaccinating one Arizonan every 10 seconds.

State Farm Stadium, located in Glendale, Arizona, typically plays host to Sunday night football games and many other large sports and entertainment events. A strikingly modern construction in the Arizona desert, the site stood largely deserted through the early wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Then in early January, the Arizona Department of Health Services announced the stadium would take on a new life with a much different purpose: dramatically expanding COVID-19 vaccinations.

Today, the stadium is the state's largest vaccination site, administering a shot every 10 seconds. Praised by President Biden and Vice President Harris as an example for other mass vaccination efforts, the 24/7 drive-through operation is the result of an expansive public-private partnership that includes BCBSAZ, the state's largest health insurer.

At the heart of the effort are the volunteers—many of whom are BCBSAZ employees, families and close friends. With less than two weeks to prepare, BCBSAZ was called on to staff, organize and manage a roster of nearly 400 volunteers each day. Their jobs included administering vaccines, registering patients, directing traffic flow, answering questions, scheduling second-dose appointments, and ensuring a steady supply of materials through rain, shine, and even hail.

Now, after the great success of the State Farm Stadium vaccination efforts, the state has asked BCBSAZ to shift its support and volunteers to the second of three state-run sites: Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Chandler, Arizona. The company has been stationed here since March 3.   

“A true testament to the grit and resilience of our community, Arizona has managed to move from a time of hopelessness and uncertainty to becoming a role model of strength and unity,” said Pam Kehaly, Chief Executive Officer of BCBSAZ. “While we need to stay vigilant and still have a long road ahead, standing shoulder to shoulder against an enemy we cannot even see will lead us to victory.”

Watch this video to hear from BCBSAZ volunteers about what it's like to be part of this monumental public health effort.

Manning the frontlines of the state's vaccination efforts is just one of the countless ways BCBSAZ has worked to support and sustain its members and communities through the COVID-19 crisis. From the earliest days of the pandemic, the health insurer quickly moved to cover COVID-19-related health services, increase access to mental health care throughout the state, feed families and communities in need, serve as a trusted source for public health education, support community organizations, source and donate protective equipment, recognize and reward frontline heroes and more. The company has also committed critical support to the state's Native American tribes—a population which faces 2x higher COVID-19 mortality rates than white Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Explore additional ways the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) system is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting vaccinations across the country.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 35 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.