An analysis of recent data from the Arizona Department of Health Services found that zip codes with the highest vaccination rates in Arizona also have some of the highest percentage increases in COVID-19 cases. At the same time, zip codes with the lowest vaccination rates also have the highest increases, Arizona’s Family Investigates found.
The top 10 zip codes with the highest increases range from a high vaccination rate of 83% in Carefree to a low vaccination rate of 41% in Surprise. One zip code in Prescott had a 12% increase even though 56% there are vaccinated.
Some zip codes had a striking difference between the percentage vaccinated and new cases. Zip codes in Winslow and Safford had only 26% vaccinated but merely a 1% increase in cases. Whereas Buckeye has a high 85% vaccinated but still a significant 5% increase in cases.
Heather Ross, a clinical assistant professor at ASU’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, speculates that maybe there is a lack of testing in less affluent areas. However, plenty of less affluent areas showed significant increases in cases. One of the 10 areas with the sharpest increases in cases is an Apache Junction zip code, which is not an affluent area. There are 47% vaccinated there. Another zip code in that top 10 is in Surprise, which has a high proportion of senior citizens, not the type of area where people are less likely to get tested or vaccinated. A third zip code is in Paradise Valley with 68% vaccinated, located in the wealthiest city in the state.
St. Louis, which is undergoing one of the biggest spikes in COVID-19 in the country, has a lower vaccination rate of 45%. The increase in cases is about the same for vaccinated vs. unvaccinated, according to data from the St. Louis County Department of Health.
Similarly, in San Francisco, despite its high rate of full vaccinations of 76%, the city has cases surging as high as it did in January, which was the worst time of the pandemic for most areas. According to the local paper SFist which analyzed the situation, “as many as 40% of all hospitalized cases are among vaccinated people.”
Financial Times reporter John Burn-Murdoch explained the 40% number based on studying data from people over age 50 in England, “The more people you vaccinate, the higher their share of hospitalisations, but the *total* number in hospital is a fraction of what it would otherwise be.” And similarly, at two hospitals in San Francisco, 175 staff members contracted COVID-19 even though 75-80% were fully vaccinated.
Many Americans are say they are hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine due to the lack of full medical trials, serious side effects found in some people, and 6,490 deaths reported to the CDC. Fortunately, current health statistics don’t appear to show much of a third COVID-19 surge in Arizona, and the death rate has stayed about the same.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at the Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].