New data shows unvaccinated Arizonans 15 times more likely to die of COVID-19

Dec 8, 2021, 1:16 PM | Updated: 1:17 pm
(Arizona Department of Health Services)...
(Arizona Department of Health Services)
(Arizona Department of Health Services)

PHOENIX – Arizonans who aren’t fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are nearly four times more likely than those who are to test positive and over 15 times more likely to die from the virus, state health officials said Wednesday.

The findings come from the Arizona Department of Health Services’ debut report on case and death rates by vaccination status.

“Vaccines continue to be a safe and effective tool for preventing COVID-19 cases and deaths,” Jessica Rigler, ADHS assistant director overseeing the Division of Public Health Preparedness, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“That bears true here in Arizona as we can see from this new report.”

The department added a link to the report, which will be updated every two weeks, on top of its online COVID-19 dashboard.

“We are very hopeful that this will be an additional point of information to encourage those who have not been vaccinated to go get their COVID vaccine if they are 5 or older,” Rigler said.

Rigler said the report also shows the importance of booster shots because the initial vaccines become less effective at protecting against breakthrough infections and death over time, especially among the older population.

The report covers a timeframe that starts when the delta variant became the dominant version of COVID-19 in Arizona.

For the first edition, the data is from June 20 to Nov. 13 for cases and the same starting point to Oct. 30 for deaths. The information is presented in graphs that show overall case and death rates for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, with age-group breakdowns.

Rigler said the report was developed in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention methodology standards for tracking breakthrough cases and deaths.

The increased COVID risk for unvaccinated Arizonans (3.9 times higher for cases, 15.2 times higher for deaths) is similar to the most recent national data published by the CDC (5.8 times higher for cases, 14 times higher for deaths).

Arizona trails behind the national rates of 75.7% of age-eligible residents with at least one dose and 63.9% fully vaccinated.

As of Wednesday, the ADHS dashboard showed 67.2% of Arizonans old enough to get vaccinated have received at least one shot, while 57.7% of them are fully vaccinated.

The minimum age to receive the Pfizer shot is 5, and it’s 18 for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The Pfizer version has full Food and Drug Administration approval, while the other two were granted emergency use authorization.

For details about statewide vaccine availability, the ADHS website has a vaccine-finder page with locations and other information.

For information about metro Phoenix vaccine availability, Maricopa County Public Health has a locator page that lists pharmacies, government-run sites, health clinics and pop-up distribution events. Appointments may be required depending on the provider.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, has no impact on some people and is seriously debilitating or fatal for others. Infected people without symptoms — which include but are not limited to cough, fever and difficulty breathing — are capable of spreading the virus.

Information about where to get tested for COVID-19 can be found on the ADHS website.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup contributed to this report.

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New data shows unvaccinated Arizonans 15 times more likely to die of COVID-19