Arizona Health Director Unsure Of Upcoming Fourth Of July Vaccine Benchmark

By Vaughan Jones
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Saturday, June 5, 2021 - 4:15pm
Updated: Monday, June 7, 2021 - 9:21am

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President Joe Biden has set a goal of having 70% of U.S. adults at least partly vaccinated against COVID-19 by the Fourth of July. But that may be an especially difficult threshold to reach in Arizona.

Arizona’s vaccination rate still lags behind many states, ranked 34 in percent of total population fully vaccinated, as of Sunday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Will Humble, the executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, says as cases go down so does the urgency to get vaccinated. He says continued outreach and easy access will help as it will make the process more spontaneous for people.

Dr. Cara Christ, head of the state health department, says Arizona has struggled with vaccine hesitancy, even before COVID-19.

"A lot of Arizonans are independent. They want to make these decisions on their own. We're working on getting that information out and answering individual questions the best that we can,” said Christ.

Dr. Cara Christ
Austin Fast/KJZZ
Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, at a news conference Dec. 11, 2020.

Almost 3 million Arizonans are fully vaccinated — but that’s less than half of the state’s more than 7 million residents.

Christ says officials are watching for spikes while the vaccination rate has plateaued.

"I think we're always watching for a potential surge in cases given there's so many unknowns about COVID-19 and potential variants,” said Christ.

Christ says the number of cases has stabilized for now, and on Friday, the health department reported 346 new infections.

At one point this year, state-run vaccination sites were administering more than 169,000 doses a week. But only 13,000 doses were given out at all state sites last week.

That played into a recent decision to close the state-run sites, while the health department focuses on bringing vaccines into the community.

Christ is confident Arizona will reach the 70% vaccination threshold eventually but is not sure it will be by July 4.

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