Arizona is seeing a decrease in new cases of COVID-19. The state is also seeing its vaccine rollout increase while new Maricopa County vaccine information shows disparities in terms of who’s getting vaccinated and who’s not. We discussed this with Will Humble, Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association.
Decrease in COVID-19 Cases
Besides COVID-19 cases, Arizona is also seeing a decline in the percent positivity rate and hospitalizations. Humble attributes this to the end of family gatherings. “The intrafamily spread that began to occur after New Year’s has now run its course,” Humble said.
Maricopa County Map
Maricopa County recently released a map showing vaccination distribution by zip code. Humble says this is helpful information and is eagerly awaiting the state’s release of similar information. However, already, the map is showing disparities among the county. “What it shows is people in lower-income zip codes at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to find this vaccine and make an appointment,” Humble said.
Humble equates this disadvantage to the state’s vaccine appointments being only available to schedule online. He says wealthier people have access to a good computer and Wi-Fi, which puts people with lower income at a disadvantage.
Federal Pharmacy Program
Recently, the Biden administration announced the Federal Pharmacy Program, which would allow the federal government to directly contract with pharmacies. Vaccine doses would become available at Arizona pharmacies like Walgreens, Fry’s and Safeway. Appointments would be scheduled at the pharmacies and completely avoid the state’s website.
“It’s a way of bringing the vaccine to people rather than bringing people to the vaccine,” Humble said. Humble suspects the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be approved soon and a perfect fit for this program. “People can start getting this vaccine like they get their flu shot,” Humble said.