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CDC report: Arizona best in nation for rural population percentage vaccinated

(Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — People in Arizona’s seven rural counties have been rolling up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine more than rural residents anywhere else in the country, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released this week.

The data, which covers vaccine administration from Dec. 14 to April 10, found 59% of residents received at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna two-shot vaccine or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Navajo, Apache, Gila, Santa Cruz, Graham, La Paz and Greenlee counties.

“Arizona’s ranking among rural counties calls attention not just to the strong vaccination efforts of our tribal nations but to the good work of local public health departments in these areas,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said in a press release.

“Local authorities are the boots on the ground for public health in Arizona and have worked diligently to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine will have the greatest impact.”

Arizona is also one of only nine states where the percentage of the population who received the shot in rural counties is more than metropolitan areas, according to the report, and much higher than the national average of 38.9%.

Santa Cruz leads the state with 56.7% of its population of just over 53,000 having received at least one shot of the vaccine as of Thursday morning, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ dashboard.

Gila County, which opened vaccine eligibility to anyone over the age of 18 at the start of March, follows behind with 46.5% of its population having been vaccinated, while the Navajo Nation that includes large portions of Navajo and Apache counties reported in late April that more than half of its adult population had got a vaccine shot, according to the release.

It’s the second time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked favorably at Arizona’s vaccination effort, ranking the state in March among the best at getting the vaccine shot to vulnerable communities.

While the state paces the nation in rural population getting a vaccine shot, Arizona’s more urban counties of Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, Yavapai, Yuma, Mohave, Coconino and Cochise are below the national average of 45.7% with 43.9% of the population in those counties getting the vaccine.

As of Thursday morning, only 28.9% of the more than 4.3 million people have received the vaccine in Maricopa County, the state’s most populated county.

Statewide, more than 3.1 million people have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine – representing 44.3% of the state’s population – while over 2.6 million people are considered fully vaccinated against the virus.

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For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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