Arizona ranks ahead of every other state for its percentage of adults vaccinated against COVID-19 in smaller rural counties, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that 59% of those 18 and older in Navajo, Apache, Gila, Santa Cruz, Graham, La Paz, and Greenlee counties had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of April 10. That’s 156,182 individuals.
“Arizona’s ranking among rural counties calls attention not just to the strong vaccination efforts of our tribal nations but to the good work of local public health departments in these areas,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). “Local authorities are the boots on the ground for public health in Arizona and have worked diligently to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine will have the greatest impact.”
Gila County won national attention for rapidly moving through phases of vaccine prioritization and opening vaccination to everyone 18 and older by the start of March. The Navajo Nation, which includes large portions of Navajo and Apache counties, reported in late April that more than half of its adult population had been vaccinated against COVID-19, and this month it reported more than 100,000 fully vaccinated. Santa Cruz County, meanwhile, has the state’s highest vaccination rate.
Arizona’s percentage of those vaccinated in smaller rural counties was well above the national average of 38.9%.
In most states, vaccination in counties considered rural for the CDC report trailed more urban counties. In Arizona, 43.9% of those 18 and older had been vaccinated against COVID-19 in counties the report defined as more urban: Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, Yavapai, Yuma, Mohave, Coconino, and Cochise. The national average for these areas was 45.7%.
It’s the second time in recent months that Arizona’s vaccination efforts have been favorably mentioned in the CDC publication. In March, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report ranked Arizona among the best states for getting the COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable communities.
To date, 5,599,098 doses of safe, highly effective, and free COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in Arizona to 3,169,782 individuals, including 2,660,462 who are fully vaccinated.
COVID-19 vaccination is readily available at hundreds of places around Arizona, including standalone pharmacies, grocery store pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and state sites. The Pfizer vaccine is available to those 12 and older, while other vaccines are available to those 18 and older.
ADHS has coordinated with health departments around the state to make sure the Pfizer vaccine is available to residents in all counties.