PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - ZIP codes in the north Phoenix area average 60% of the population having at least one vaccination shot. But those same ZIP codes show among the state's highest percent increase in COVID-19 infections in July, according to an analysis of available state, county and city data performed by Arizona's Family Investigates.
Meantime, in other parts of the state, ZIP codes with much lower vaccination rates are seeing equally high increases in infections.
"The only cases that get counted are people who get tested," said Heather Ross, Ph.D. Ross is a clinical assistant professor at ASU's Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation. She believes the apparent inconsistency in vaccination rate and infection rate has to do with the availability of testing.
"A lot of those public free testing sites have gone away, and so what we see, then, is we're seeing testing numbers from people who live in communities that maybe have the resources to go and seek testing and maybe can take the time off of work. Whereas people who live in those traditionally underserved areas just don't have those testing resources available to them, so they're not getting counted. That doesn't mean they're not getting COVID-19. It just means they're not showing up in the data," said Ross.
That may explain why ZIP codes like 85253, which falls within Paradise Valley, showed such a large increase in COVID-19 cases in July that it falls within the 25 worst in the state for that month. That, despite the fact that 68% of the people who live in that ZIP code have been vaccinated.
Other ZIP codes in and near North Phoenix have similarly high infection rates, and above average vaccination rates. The Arizona Department of Health services reports that just under 53% of Arizona residents have received at least one vaccination dose.
The ZIPs with with the largest percent increases in COVID-19 cases in July, and their respective vaccinated population percentages are:
- 85377 Carefree 83% Vaccinated
- 85383 Peoria 67% Vaccinated
- 85050 Phoenix 63% Vaccinated
- 85085 Phoenix 62% Vaccinated
- 85086 Phoenix 46% Vaccinated
- 85119 Apache Junction 47% Vaccinated
- 85253 Paradise Valley 68% Vaccinated
- 85310 Cave Creek 60% Vaccinated
- 85388 Surprise 41% Vaccinated
In other parts of Arizona, a low vaccination percentage correlates to a higher infection rate.
That is the case in the northwestern part of the state. One ZIP code in Mohave Valley has a 20% vaccination rate. Another in Kingman has a 28% vaccination rate. Both are among the 20 ZIP codes with the highest increase in infections in July.
Other areas with high increases include the Prescott area and in and near Lakeside.
Public health experts say the best way to end the increase in cases is to increase the number of people getting vaccinated. In the meantime, Ross says people should take all common sense steps to avoid getting sick.
"It's not 'either, or.' It's not 'vaccination or masks.' It's 'yes' and use all of the tools that you have available to keep yourself and your family and your Community safe," said Ross.