PHOENIX — More than 1.3 million Maricopa County residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, months after Arizona's largest county received its first shipments of the vaccine.
That number represents nearly 40% of all residents over the age of 15, according to the county.
But there are some zip codes in Maricopa County that are seeing COVID-19 vaccine inequity.
Less than 15% of residents in this west Phoenix zip code have been vaccinated
According to the Maricopa County Department of Health, only 14.8% of people eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in the 85009 zip code have been vaccinated.
The zip code has one of the lowest vaccination percentages in the state.
It is located just west of downtown Phoenix and is home to 51,000 residents.
“The speed at which Maricopa County residents are getting vaccinated shows how much can be done when partners come together,” said Marcy Flanagan, executive director of Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH).
82% of residents in the 85009 zip code identify as Hispanic or Latino
The 85009 zip code is predominately Hispanic or Latino. The median income is less than $33,000 and 35% of people in the zip code live below poverty lines.
Zip codes with wealthier incomes have seen higher percentages of vaccinations. In the 85623 zip code, for example, 68.3% of eligible residents have been vaccinated.
“Vaccine equity as a concept is pretty straightforward, it just means the folks who are receiving vaccines, getting shots in arms look like the people who make up this country,” said Dr. Cameron Webb, member of the White House COVID-19 Vaccine Team. But the low percentage represents inequity in Arizona.
According to the Arizona Census, Hispanic and Latinos make up 31.7% of the state's population, but the Arizona Department of Health Services COVID-19 dashboard show only 11.1% have been vaccinated. The majority of vaccination have gone in the arms of those identifying as white and non-Hispanic.
“You need to have the venue for the vaccine, spaces where people can get vaccinated,” said Dr. Webb.
State-run vaccine sites have received national praise but can be challenging for lower-income communities to get to.
“In Arizona, you really have to think about where can we expand access, you have to start with that conversation. Then you say what are the other dynamics in terms of vaccine confidence that we also need to address to connect people with the vaccine,” said Dr. Webb.
Maricopa County continues to work towards increasing vaccine equity
The county said they have worked closely with the city of Phoenix and held vaccine events at Harmon Park within the 85003 zip code and close to both 85007 and 85009.
"We conducted targeted outreach to encourage interested residents in several nearby, low-uptake zip codes to participate in the event we brought to their neighborhood," said a county spokesperson.
The county says out of the 600 residents vaccinated through that event, 120 came from the 85007 and 85009 zip codes.
The county said they have ongoing outreach, including:
- Working with The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI) developing materials for different audiences on COVID-19 vaccine.
- Developing PSA’s in different languages to promote the vaccine.
- Websites and social media channels in English & Spanish to inform the community.
- Webinars with partners for Spanish-speaking audiences including the Consulate of Mexico. "This webinar was to reach the senior Spanish speaking community 75 and older that does not have access to internet to make an appointment," said a county spokesperson. "We developed a bilingual survey and printed the survey for seniors who do not have access to internet and partners like the consulates could have them ready for the 75 + who would like to make an appointment and our immunization team will call them when there is vaccine available. This is only for limited time targeting the 75+ before we open to more groups."