Booster shots drive uptick in demand for vaccines in Arizona
The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in Arizona has increased in the past few weeks, but demand is driven mainly by people getting booster doses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in late September recommended a third dose of a Pfizer vaccine for people 65 or older, residents of long-term care facilities, or workers in some high-exposure professions. By the end of September, Maricopa County was administering nearly 11,000 COVID-19 vaccines per day, an 80% increase over the previous week, according to data from Maricopa County Public Health.
About half of doses administered in the county recently were booster shots. Meanwhile, county data shows demand for first doses has slowed. Trends are similar statewide, said Jessica Rigler, assistant director for the division of public health preparedness with the Arizona Department of Health Services.
“It looks to be that there are now more people out there getting booster doses than first doses,” Rigler said. “Booster doses are very important for people who are in the eligible categories who have already been fully vaccinated. But really we need more people to be vaccinated altogether in order to help us control COVID-19 as a state and as a country and as a community.”
The state health department reports nearly 500,000 Arizonans over the age of 65 are fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine and are eligible for a booster dose. Of those, more than 60,000 people have already gotten their third shot.
Arizona's vaccination rate remains below the national average. About 40% of people in the state have still not had a vaccine. The state reports the vast majority of recent hospitalizations and deaths have been among unvaccinated people.
The recommendation for booster shots still applies only to those who were initially vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration this week is considering recommendations for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
To learn more about the rise in demand, The Show spoke with KJZZ's Katherine-Davis Young, who has been covering the vaccination efforts.
Hear Katherine Davis-Young's Interview With Host Lauren Gilger On The Show