State health director discusses AZ vaccinations and more

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Arizona’s COVID numbers are trending in the right direction and the state’s vaccination efforts are in full swing, but there’s concern over the more contagious UK variant of the virus. The variant could lead to another surge in the next couple of months. We discussed this with Dr. Cara Christ, Director of Arizona Department of Health Services.

COVID-19 variant

According to Dr. Christ, cases of the UK variant have been identified in Arizona. “What it looks like right now is that the vaccine is a good match for the UK variant, but it does appear to have a higher transmission rate,” Dr. Christ said.

Arizona might see a spike in cases if the UK variant presents a challenge in the state, according to Dr. Christ. “However, what we would anticipate is not seeing the same level of hospitalization due to the increased number of people who are vaccinated,” Dr. Christ said.

Reaching underserved communities

Now that state vaccination sites are operating, Dr. Christ says the attention has been turned to reaching underserved communities. The department has been running a pilot on a program where people are reaching out to those eligible for the vaccine, scheduling an appointment at the Phoenix Municipal site for them and setting up their transportation to get there.

“We will be moving this pilot into other areas that we’ve identified need additional assistance,” Dr. Christ said.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Arizona currently has the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the public will be seeing it soon, according to Dr. Christ. “It was allocated to our local health departments on a population basis and they are working with their providers to get it out in the community,” Dr. Christ said.

Ducey’s Executive Order

Governor Ducey issued an executive order lifting the occupancy restrictions on businesses. According to Dr. Christ, this executive order won’t present any challenges given that businesses will still need to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

Dr. Cara Christ, Director, Arizona Department of Health Services

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