AZ health department encourages vaccines, boosters as COVID-19 wave continues
COVID-19 cases have plateaued at a high level in Arizona. The Arizona Department of Health Services added 17,249 new cases and 70 deaths to its dashboard in its weekly update Wednesday.
Medical experts say recent case counts represent only a fraction of the actual number of cases in the community, since cases diagnosed through at-home tests often go uncounted.
COVID-19 inpatient bed use in Arizona hospitals is up slightly, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but is still not as high as in previous waves.
The omicron sub-variants driving high transmission nationwide are extremely contagious and appear to be more likely to evade immunity from prior infections or vaccines. Still, staying up-to-date on vaccination is the best way to stay safe, said Carla Berg, Arizona's deputy director for public health services.
“Unvaccinated Arizonans, compared to individuals who were fully vaccinated with a booster, had an eight times higher risk of hospitalization and a 21 times higher risk of death," Berg said, citing state data from May.
Just 44% of vaccinated Arizonans have gotten a first booster, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And among Arizonans 50 and older who have had a first booster, just 30% have had a second booster. Berg said that's a concern.
“We just want to really ensure that individuals, especially those 50 and older who could have their second booster fully take advantage of that," Berg said. "We really are looking at that to reduce community spread, reduce severe disease and outcomes, and minimize strain on our health care system.”
In addition to vaccination, the CDC continues to recommend indoor mask use for most Arizona counties while transmission remains high.