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Mesa Mayor Giles joins nationwide COVID-19 vaccination challenge

(Facebook photo/Mayor John Giles)

PHOENIX — Mesa Mayor John Giles has joined a challenge with mayors from more than 80 cities nationwide to see which city can grow its COVID-19 vaccination rate the most by the Fourth of July.

“I think this is the most important cause we can be involved in right now,” Giles told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “We are trying to get over the finish line on getting back to normal and creating herd immunity.”

The challenge is part of President Joe Biden’s National Month of Action to mobilize a sprint to get 70% of U.S. adults at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot by July 4.

Giles is the only mayor in Arizona so far to take part in the challenge, which is being run in collaboration with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Mayors who participate in the challenge commit to taking actions through the month to boost vaccinations, including coordinated canvassing efforts, partnerships with local businesses and incentives for residents.

Maricopa County’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard shows 46.8% of Mesa’s eligible population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes not only the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines – which have been approved for those over the age of 18 – but also the Pfizer vaccine that was recently approved for children as young as 12.

Giles said the city has seen a stall in the vaccination progress recently as supply caught up and exceeded demand.

“I think everyone who was anxious to get the vaccination has received it and now it’s time to do the hard work of getting it out and making it easy, getting it out to people who may have some questions about it or that might need a little persuading,” Giles said.

“This is where we need to all engage in persuasion and setting good examples and making things easy and incentivizing and doing all we can to create herd immunity in our community.”

He hopes the vaccination effort shifting to a local approach – such as vaccines being available in drug stores, doctor’s offices and local events – will help make more progress on the way to herd immunity.

“We just need to remind people don’t do it for yourself, do it for your family, do it for your children that haven’t been vaccinated, do it for the rest of the community that wants to get back to normal and we can’t until we create herd immunity,” Giles said.

The winning cities will be recognized later this year.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

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