PHOENIX (3 TV/CBS 5) - COVID-19 vaccinations aren't being distributed at the same rate across Maricopa County's ZIP codes. According to the county's COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, some areas of Maricopa County have significantly lower vaccination rates than others.

"We've disproportionately not vaccinated the places that need it the most," said Dr. Shad Marvasti with the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix.

Dr. Marvasti says that the dashboard shows traditionally-wealthier ZIP codes with higher vaccination rates than ZIP codes with lower income levels.

According to the County dashboard, there are ZIP codes in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Gilbert, and Chandler where more than 75% of the eligible population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

But if you take a look at areas like south Phoenix and Maryvale and the vaccination rate is much lower. One ZIP code in southwest Phoenix only had a 14.8% vaccination rate out of the eligible population.

"Our ZIP code is as important if not more important than our genetic code," Dr. Marvasti said.

Dr. Marvasti says there are a lot of barriers to getting the vaccine for people living in underserved communities.

"Having to have internet access and be savvy enough to get through that whole scheduling process and the snafus that have come up from it. Having a vehicle to get transportation and having a flexible job that allows you time to actually go and get vaccinated," Dr. Marvasti said.

There are some factors like occupation that can account for the disproportionate vaccination rates in different ZIP codes. Health care workers like doctors and nurses were some of the first in line to get the vaccine.

Still, state leaders say they're going to work toward getting more vaccinations into lower-income ZIP codes moving forward.

"You will start to see more smaller-based community vaccination events. And so that is our goal, to get into those communities especially as we move into Phase 1B, which will have a lot of our essential frontline workers," said Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ.

The state also plans to work with community groups.

"To help be able to register, get people appointments, get people transportation to appointments, or get the appointments into the communities where those people are," Dr. Christ said.

Meanwhile, the data on race and ethnicity in vaccine distribution is relatively incomplete -- with a lot of people not answering. Health experts say that more outreach needs to be done in minority communities where some are still skeptical about taking the vaccine.

 

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