High-intensity state outreach brings COVID-19 campaign to underserved populations
PHOENIX — Arizona has administered its 2 millionth dose of COVID-19 vaccine as the state and local partners work to get the currently limited supply into arms as quickly as possible, including highly targeted efforts in underserved areas.
As of this morning, 2,016,512 doses had been administered to 1,312,951 individuals, including 711,074 who have received both doses.
“This is certainly a milestone, but there is plenty of work ahead and millions more Arizonans in need of vaccination,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “We are grateful to all of the medical professionals, volunteers, and frontline workers involved in getting vaccine into the community, and to all of the Arizonans who have made the decision to get vaccinated.”
Of those doses, 487,522, or 24%, have been administered at state sites offered at State Farm Stadium, Arizona State University’s Phoenix Municipal Stadium, and Chandler-Gilbert Community College in the Phoenix area and at the University of Arizona’s campus in central Tucson.
As vaccine administration continues to expand, a priority for ADHS is reaching communities most impacted by COVID-19. ADHS and partners continue an effort in ZIP code 85009 just west of downtown Phoenix, an effort that includes targeted use of social media in English and Spanish as well as hundreds of yard signs promoting vaccination and wearing masks. Interaction with community leaders has also led to a collaboration to get residents 65 and older to appointments at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Last week, residents of that ZIP code received a call recorded by Dr. Christ inviting them to participate in a telephone town hall about COVID-19 vaccination. Nearly 600 stayed on the line for a moderated 30-minute session, during which Dr. Christ provided information about COVID-19 and several participants asked her questions.
A Spanish language telephone town hall was held two nights later, drawing more than 600 participants, and English and Spanish follow-up sessions are planned next week.
This highly targeted campaign, focusing on an area with higher COVID-19 cases and lower vaccination rates than many others, is part of a multi-pronged effort through which ADHS is engaging underserved populations directly and through partners including county health departments.
“Getting vaccine to all Arizonans who want to be vaccinated is an all-hands-on-deck effort for ADHS and our partners,” Dr. Christ said. “Our goal is removing barriers as soon as we identify them and taking advantage of every opportunity to do things better.”
Next up is a plan to expand this approach into underserved neighborhoods in areas of southwest and east Phoenix while looking to reach even more of Arizona.
ADHS offers a bilingual COVID-19 Vaccine Navigation Help Desk at 844.542.8011 for those needing extra assistance with registration and answers to questions. When about 50,000 appointments were made available on Tuesday, March 2, at State Farm Stadium and Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the help desk handled 1,562 calls from Spanish speakers.
The agency continues to add information and resources in Spanish, including the online scheduling tool at podvaccine.azdhs.gov.
All such plans stem from coordination with county partners, healthcare providers, and community leaders.
Dr. Christ recently held a virtual discussion on vaccine equity with David Adame, president and CEO of Chicanos Por La Causa; Tomas Leon, senior vice president for marketing and strategy at Equality Health; and Alan “AP” Powell, founding chairman of Herozona Foundation, and Marcy Flanagan, the Executive Director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. During this session, ADHS and Maricopa County representatives briefed the group and sought input on community-wide and highly targeted local campaigns. ADHS representatives also discussed leveraging the successful “Roll Up Your Sleeve” campaign from this influenza season for the COVID-19 effort, including pre-made educational and marketing materials that the agency can offer with a partner’s branding. The group agreed to meet again soon to further leverage this partnership.
Local health departments have been working to reach communities impacted by COVID-19 and increase vaccine uptake. Maricopa County Department of Public Health is coordinating with community organizations to put community-based vaccine sites directly in high-risk communities. The Pima County Health Department, partnering with local community based organizations and faith-based leaders, has been providing mobile vaccination opportunities to those most in need.
Information about all vaccination sites across Arizona can be found at azhealth.gov/findvaccine. Those without computer access or needing extra help registering can call 1-844-542-8201 to be connected with someone who can assist. Note: You can use the patient portal at podvaccine.azdhs.gov to make an appointment for a relative in a prioritized group.
To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination, please visit azdhs.gov/COVID19Vaccines.