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Health expert Carmona urges Arizonans to get booster shots as omicron variant spreads

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Wednesday, December 22, 2021 - 11:17am
Updated: Wednesday, December 22, 2021 - 1:25pm

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Dr. Richard Carmona
Katherine Davis-Young/KJZZ
Dr. Richard Carmona, special adviser to Gov. Ducey on public health emergency preparedness, speaks at a press conference on Nov. 23, 2021.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 2,806 new cases of COVID-19 and 74 more deaths attributable to the virus Dec. 22. The number of Arizonans who have died from COVID since the beginning of the pandemic is nearing 24,000 — and Arizona has reported nearly 500 fatalities in the past week alone.

The Department is also reporting the administration of more than 30,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, but according to the Mayo Clinic, 56.5% of Arizonans are fully vaccinated, about 5% below the national average.

And now, state health officials are moving their attention to boosters, asking those who have been vaccinated more than six months ago to get the third shot now. Boosters have shown success in protecting against the new omicron variant, which is even more transmissible than delta, but only about a third of eligible Arizonans have gotten their booster.

At the same time, Arizona’s overall vaccination rate still lags behind the national average, and hospitals are filling up with mostly unvaccinated patients.

With holidays and subsequent travel on the horizon, positive cases of COVID-19, and sadly, deaths, look like they will continue to climb into 2022 as the state remains diligent to encourage more vaccinations.

To learn more about Arizona's COVID-19 situation, The Show spoke with Dr. Richard Carmona, the former U.S. surgeon general and health adviser to Gov. Doug Ducey.

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