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Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine slows in Arizona as virus hospitalization data trends up

While more than 2 million Arizonans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, daily vaccination averages are trending down.

PHOENIX — While more than two million Arizonans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, daily vaccination averages are trending down and COVID-19 hospitalization data is trending up.

Vaccinations trending down, COVID-19 hospitalizations trending up

Since the COVID-19 vaccine first arrived in Arizona back in December, 29% of Arizonans have rolled up their sleeve to get fully vaccinated against the virus.

But demand for the shot is slowing down.

Appointments used to be hard to come by, but for this week alone, the Arizona Department of Health Services has more than 45,000 appointments at state sites in the Valley.

The seven-day averages of the number of people getting their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine have been trending down for the last two weeks.

The high point came on April 11 with an average of about 42,000 new vaccines given a day and has slid down to an average of 24,000 people a day on Saturday.

However, over the past two weeks, the number of people with COVID-19 in Arizona hospitals is up 15% and the number of COVID-19 patients in Arizona ICUs has gone up 23%.

It’s a trend medical experts thought might happen

“Unfortunately, some of it is not a huge surprise,” Dr. Ross Goldberg, vice chair of Surgery at Valleywise Health, said.

Goldberg said likely all the Arizonans who really wanted to get the vaccine, got the vaccine. Now people who may be hesitant to get the vaccine, or don’t want the vaccine are probably who’s left. Goldberg adds now is the time to help address those people’s concerns.

“Show them the data, we’ve got hundreds of millions of people as examples, and really try to help boost the confidence of those that aren’t sure that it is safe to get the vaccine,” Goldberg said. “And that it will get us to some sense of normalcy if we can get those numbers up.”

Younger people driving the spread of the virus 

Goldberg said he’s seeing the spread of the virus in younger people with help from the more easily spread variant out of the U.K.

“People are just doing what they want because they’re tired of it. And so they go and spread at these events because they don’t realize they’re asymptomatic or they’re just too early to show symptoms and that’s why you’re starting to see some of the upticks,” Goldberg said.

The numbers trending up include ICU beds, Goldberg said it’s a reminder that someone’s age is not an automatic indicator of how the virus might hit them.

“This assumption of it’s an all or nothing binary. If I die or I don’t – I’m fine. People can have significant medical problems, young people too,” Goldberg said.

Is a summer surge possible?

With virus spread increasing and vaccinations per day dropping, does that leave Arizona vulnerable to a summer wave?

Goldberg said what’s different this year than last year, is there are more than 2 million Arizonans fully vaccinated right now.

“My hope is with the vaccinations that we have and continue to build on, that will blunt whatever wave is coming,” Goldberg said.

However, Goldberg asks for a little more patience following mitigation strategies and hopes more people will get vaccinated to get back to some kind of normal.

“Try to prevent the spread of this thing so we can move on with our lives,” Goldberg said.

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