Join the Herd (Immunity)!
As the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Arizona continues to gain momentum, the official statistics still show more people have not received the vaccine than have. Everyone’s participation is crucial to reach a successful solution for this public health crisis.
According to data provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) as of April 16, Arizona has 852,570 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is just over 11% of the state’s population; and 37% of the population has received vaccines — 2,656,696 first doses and 1,812,090 second doses, for a total of 4,326,494. This is still far from the amount required for herd immunity, which Dr. Cara Christ, AZDHS’s director, expects may happen by the end of this summer or early fall.
The Bulletproof Vest
“The recommendation is that everyone should get vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Dr. Edmond Baker, Medical Director at Equality Health. “Each vaccine gets us closer to what is called herd immunity. Herd immunity happens when the number of people who receive the vaccine or have been infected by the virus reaches 80%. It’s preferred and recommended to achieve this immunity by receiving the vaccine and not from the sickness, which is why it’s so important for people to receive the vaccine.”
With respect to preventative measures such as wearing face masks and social distancing, Dr. Baker clearly stated that these actions should continue no matter who has and hasn’t received the vaccine. These powerful tools of prevention complement the effectiveness of the vaccine.
“People believe the vaccine is like a bulletproof vest,” Dr. Baker said, “and it is. But like the vest, the vaccine protects only certain areas. Our goal is to not only protect the immune system with the vaccine but also continue with regular handwashing and social distancing. These preventative measures have proven to be effective.”
Cafecito Talks COVID-19
In March, a “Cafecito Time con Equality Health” webinar featured facts about the COVID-19 vaccine. María Rebozo-LaPine, Equality Health’s Cultural Training Manager and host, spoke with Jhoana Molina, Public Information Officer with Maricopa County Department of Public Health, who shared details about the vaccine and who can get it.
Molina stated that Maricopa County has the highest number of residents in the state and plays an important part in the strategy of vaccine distribution. She talked about the efforts to bring the vaccine to vulnerable populations that reside in rural areas in the county. The initiative was spearheaded by a coalition of community organizations that includes the Equality Health Foundation. Rebozo-LaPine mentioned that one of the primary functions of Equality Health is to provide information and resources to underserved communities so residents can achieve a better quality of life.
No Questions Asked
The coalition’s goal is to get the greatest number of people vaccinated, regardless of race, color, immigration status, ethnic origin, or ZIP code. Molina added this includes undocumented individuals, who can receive a vaccine without fear.
“In this case,” said Molina, “it’s not required to provide any legal documentation to receive a vaccine simply because we are currently in a pandemic. A vaccine can save a life and is given to the community regardless of immigration status. No questions asked.
“We do not work with any immigration agency or ask any questions about legal residence,” Molina added. “It’s like a doctor’s visit. We only ask for your name and age to determine if you are eligible for the vaccine.”
Vaccination Brings Privileges
Since March 22, anyone 16 years and older can receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Arizona. Most people can receive their doses in convenient locations such as pharmacies and supermarkets.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and 94-95% effective. The vaccines can cause brief side effects, but the benefits outweigh any discomfort.
After receiving two doses of the vaccine, your body needs two weeks to build immunity against COVID-19. The good news is once you have received the complete vaccine protocol, you can begin to participate in activities that have been on hold due to the pandemic. Please visit the CDC website for more information: www.cdc.gov. And remember to please wear your face mask and continue social distancing.
To find out where you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Maricopa County, visit www.maricopa.gov/5659/COVID-19-Vaccine-Locations. If you would like to make an appointment, visit www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/index.php#novel-coronavirus-find-vaccine.
Published in Prensa Arizona, 4/29/2021