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Vaccine demand slows as AZ surpasses 17,000 deaths

Demand for vaccine at mega-sites in Arizona is slowing, state health officials report. (Adobe image)

Demand for vaccine at mega-sites in Arizona is slowing, state health officials report. (Adobe image)

PHOENIX - Arizona health officials say they are seeing demand for COVID-19 vaccinations slowing, particularly at large sites.

Vaccine appointments at state-run sites opened to anyone 16 and older on March 24, and thousands of slots were available at sites in Tucson and Yuma as the week began, KTAR reported.

“What I think we’re seeing right now is supply starting to meet demand,” Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona Department of Health Services director, said at a press conference Monday.

It comes as Arizona reported 27 more COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, raising its pandemic death toll above 17,000. The state also reported 750 new COVID-19 cases, increasing the total number of confirmed infections to 846,230.

In Yavapai County, with vaccine doses increasingly available at pharmacies and other locations, Spectrum Health Care said it was closing its mass vaccination site at an indoor arena in Prescott Valley after Wednesday, The Daily Courier reported.

The state plans to release more public service announcements encouraging people to get vaccinated, and Christ said she hopes that’ll help address vaccine hesitancy.

“But we do anticipate that the demand will start to slow a little bit,” she added.

The number of people in Arizona who have received at least one dose has reached 2.4 million, or 33.4% of the population, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

Once demand for the large state-run sites falls off, likely in two or three more months, vaccination efforts will shift to pharmacies and community events, Christ said.

The state operates three large sites in metro Phoenix and plans a fourth. There also are one each in Tucson and Yuma.

Dr. Bharat Magu, Yuma Regional Medical Center’s chief medical officer, said factors ranging from spring break to a sense of COVID-19 fatigue could be combining to reduce demand for vaccinations, the Yuma Sun reported. However, the shots are important to reduce the virus’ spread.

“We are definitely not even close to celebrating a victory,” Magu said.

In Mohave County, Public Health Director Denise Burley said the vaccine supply in coming weeks may gradually outweigh demand, raising the possibility that the area’s doses could be reallocated, The Miner reported. Burley urged people to get vaccinated soon to ensure the county keeps getting vaccine.

Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of daily deaths declined over the past two weeks, dropping from 32 on March 22 to 9 as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

But the rolling average of daily new cases increased during the same period, rising from 481 to 629.

The death toll topped 17,000 five weeks after reaching 16,000 on March 2. That’s a sharp deacceleration – it took just 12 days to register an additional 1,000 deaths after 15,000 were recorded on Feb. 17.

Arizona ranks 12th highest in the U.S. in the number of COVID-19 deaths and sixth highest in the rate of deaths per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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