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Christ says herd immunity possible by fall in Arizona at current rate

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ administers the COVID-19 vaccine at the Roosevelt School District’s C.O. Greenfield School in south Phoenix on Thursday. (Facebook photo/Arizona Department of Health Services)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s top health official said Thursday it’s possible the state reaches herd immunity against COVID-19 by the fall based on the current vaccination rate.

Speaking at the launch of the first vaccine site in Arizona for underserved youth ages 12-15, Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said the ideal percentage of Arizonans to be vaccinated against the virus for herd immunity would be 70-80%.

As of Thursday morning, 42.9% of the state’s population has received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, representing over three million people, according to the department’s dashboard.

She expects that number to rise with the U.S. expanding availability of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children as young as 12 earlier this week.

“We still have a way to go but adding this additional population is going to help increase those numbers and with every Arizonan that gets vaccinated, we get closer to that herd immunity and preventing the spread,” Christ said.

State-run vaccine sites, as well as distribution points in the various counties, began administering the COVID-19 vaccine by age group and essential occupations in January before opening up to everyone who met the age requirement in March as demand for the vaccine decreased and supply rose.

As vaccine numbers have grown, daily cases of the virus have fallen.

Arizona hasn’t recorded a day with more than 1,000 cases reported since March 1 after nearly four months with daily case numbers in the thousands.

The Centers for Disease Control on Thursday also eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings, a move Christ said was great news.

She advises people still take caution when with people they don’t know and physically distance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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