Nearly half of eligible residents fully vaccinated SanTan Sun News

Nearly half of eligible residents fully vaccinated

May 24th, 2021 STSN Staff
Nearly half of eligible residents fully vaccinated
Community
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By PAUL MARYNIAK
Executive Editor

Nearly half of Chandler residents 15 and older have been fully vaccinated with one of the three COVID-19 vaccines.

Data released last week by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health show that 47.1 percent of the city’s population has been fully vaccinated while 56.7 percent has received one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, which require two shots for full protection, or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Those rates and the ebbing number of COVID-19 cases prompted Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke on May 14 to rescind his Proclamation Declaring the Existence of a Local Emergency that he issued 14 months ago.

Tomorrow, May 24, the Chandler Senior Center will reopen and resume programming, with social distancing and sanitation measures in place.

“I would like to thank our residents and businesses for working with us through the unparalleled challenges of COVID-19, and for coming together to support one another through these times.,” Hartke said.

“The community and our economy are stronger than we have ever been, and the City is working hard to keep that momentum,” he added, urging residents to follow federal health guidelines and respect individual businesses’ virus-mitigation rules.

According to the county, south Chandler ZIP codes show the highest rates of full vaccination with 85249 showing 57.1 percent have been fully vaccinated and 85286 recording 49.6 percent. A little behind those two ZIP codes is 85248, with 45.9 percent fully vaccinated.

In all three of those ZIP, at least 60 percent have received one COVID-19 shot.

In Chandler’s other three ZIP codes, the percentages of fully vaccinated residents are: 85224, 45.4 percent; 85225, 37.1 percent; and 85226, 49.1 percent.

At the same time, Chandler is not out of the woods where the coronavirus is concerned.

The city is still in a “substantial transmission” category with 52.8 new cases per 100,000 people and 6.7 percent of new test results coming back positive. That latter number indicates a moderate spread.

In a change from a week earlier, when one of Chandler’s six ZIP codes, 85225, was in the “high transmission” category, the newly released data show no Chandler ZIP code at that level any more.

Nevertheless, those numbers are a far cry from where they were four or five months ago, when cases per 100,000 were at times tiple the current number and positive test results were more than twice what they are now.

Chandler’s overall fully vaccinated percentage tops that of any of its neighbors.

Gilbert is the next highest with 41.6 percent of eligible residents full vaccinated, followed by Tempe at 42.3 percent and Mesa at 38.8 percent.

While Phoenix city-wide has a fully vaccinated rate of 37.5 percent, Ahwatukee’s rate for fullyvaccinated people is above 60 percent

Statewide, 44.3 percent of residents have received one dose and 33 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health Services.

Maricopa County’s fully vaccinated rate is only 32.6 percent. That percentage puts it in the it behind Yuma, Santa Cruz, Pima, Navajo, La Paz, Graham Gila, Coconino, Cochise and Apache counties.

The county health department said that as of last week, 47 percent of all Maricopa County residents over age 10 had received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Over 6,400 kids between 12 and 15 received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine within four days after federal authorities authorized it for children that young.

Still, full vaccination rates have been sufficiently concerning to state Health Director Dr. Cara Christ that she recently held a virtual town hall specifically “for those living in areas of Mesa identified for highly targeted outreach on COVID-19 vaccinations.”

Christ made it clear she was giving a pep talk “to encourage every Arizonan to be vaccinated.”

Several callers had a similar question: How safe are the vaccines?

“Arizona is now vaccinating all individuals age 16 and over … This vaccine is safe and effective,” she stressed, noting manufacturers were required to show their vaccines are safe.

“With any medication or vaccine, there’s always the possibility of side effects … they’re really common after the second dose,” Christ added.

She referenced a recent national article that showed “not only does the vaccine protect against the strain it was designed against, but it also protects against the variants.”

Asked about “booster” shots for those who have been vaccinated, Christ said timelines are fuzzy, then added, “Some providers are looking at combining a flu shot with a COVID booster.”

Christ said all that needs to be done for now is the two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one shot of Johnson and Johnson, which are “believed to provide six months of coverage.”

Although at AFN’s deadline the minimum age eligibility for any of the COVID-19 vaccines remained at 16, Christ said she is “hoping 12 and above will be eligible starting” this week.

And, she added, “We’re hoping before the start of school, more ages will be eligible for vaccines.”

One caller shared concerns about “long term effects” of the new vaccines: “I don’t want to grow a third eye or something,” she said.

“There aren’t a lot of long-term effects with these vaccines … these are safe,” Christ stressed in her answer.

After another caller shared similar concerns, Christ said, “This (vaccine) has been tested on hundreds of millions of people …. The vaccine is really good at protecting against hospitalization and death.”

Christ took another shot at convincing the skeptics:

“The vaccine is the best tool we have for returning to normal,” she said.

“This virus is very unpredictable. It is able to mutate … The more people that can get vaccinated the less chance there is for the virus to be transmitted and mutate into a strain that may not be protected.”

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