Vaccine disparities in Arizona

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Arizona is right at the national average for the number of adults receiving Covid vaccinations, but the state is still seeing disparities among those getting vaccinated. We spoke with Dr. Swapna Reddy of ASU’s College of Health Solutions about why those disparities persist.

“This is what’s interesting about the picture that’s happening with vaccination rates in Arizona, our rates are as good or better than the national rates, and here in Maricopa county, we’re seeing about 40% of eligible adults have at least received their first dose. What we’re still not seeing though is a consistent picture across all of our communities, so Maricopa county is a great example. Our high-income communities our high-income zip codes have the highest rates of vaccination, we’re still seeing a lot of lagging though in those low-income zip codes low-income communities which also tend to be communities of color. So what we’re really seeing is an equity issue here and we’re trying to understand is about access to vaccinations is this also about hesitation in those communities to go and get vaccinated, and we’re really figuring out if it’s a little bit of both and most likely it’s more about access at this point and having vaccinations available in those communities.”

Dr. Reddy also attributed many of these issues to mixed messaging, not just at the national level, but specifically here in Arizona as well.

“We’ve seen lots of policy changes lately, right? So removing mask mandates at a state level, but then certain cities let’s say here in Phoenix the mayor has indicated support for continuing mask mandates, mixed messaging around capacity restrictions in businesses and we’re seeing private businesses doing things differently. Over the course of the pandemic we’ve kind of gone back and forth on these mitigation restrictions so not a lot of consistency and what we’re seeing is again those populations that are the most vulnerable amongst us, communities of color, low-income folks, the elderly, suffer because of it.”

Dr. Swapna Reddy, JD, DrPH, MPH/Arizona State University College of Health Solutions, Assistant Professor

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