PHOENIX, AZ (STL.News) Dozens of taxicabs snaked through the COVID-19 vaccination queue this morning at Arizona State University’s Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Their passengers: prioritized individuals from a ZIP code where the Arizona Department of Health Services has been conducting high-intensity outreach.
“This pilot program demonstrates how hard we are working hard to make sure all Arizonans who are eligible for the vaccine have easy access to a vaccination site,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “More than 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across the state, and we will continue to work with local partners to ensure communities in need connect with helpful resources as we ramp up distribution.”
To date, 774,250 Arizonans have received their second dose of the vaccine — equaling more than 10 percent of the state’s population. Continuing an effort that has included Spanish and English telephone town halls with more scheduled this week, targeted social media messaging, yard signs, and other outreach, volunteers fanned out in ZIP code 85009 just west of downtown Phoenix to help people register for COVID-19 vaccination. As a result, more than 400 people from this ZIP code will be vaccinated this week at state-run vaccination sites.
A little less than half of those individuals will take taxicabs provided through the ADHS outreach effort.
“Our work in ZIP code 85009 is just the beginning,” said ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ, who was at Phoenix Municipal Stadium to administer vaccinations to residents. “The state and our local partners are out to remove barriers to vaccination in additional underserved areas.”
This highly targeted campaign focuses on a majority-Hispanic area with higher COVID-19 cases than most others—more than 8,300 to date out of an estimated population of approximately 57,000—and less than 3,000 vaccinated to date. It is part of a multi-pronged effort through which ADHS is engaging underserved populations directly and through partners including county health departments.
Two weeks ago, hundreds living in ZIP code 85009 attended a telephone town hall with Dr. Christ, and hundreds more took part in a Spanish telephone town hall two nights later. There will be follow-up town halls on Tuesday and Thursday evenings this week.
In early February, faith leaders joined Director Christ and Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family Director Maria Cristina Fuentes to receive their first dose of the vaccine. The faith leaders highlighted the importance of getting the vaccine and protecting Arizona communities.
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. While providing taxicabs for those needing transportation in this phase of the effort, ADHS is exploring other transportation options that can be used to get people to mass-vaccination sites.
ADHS offers a bilingual COVID-19 Vaccine Navigation Help Desk at 844.542.8201 for those needing extra assistance with registration and answers to questions. The agency continues to add information and resources in Spanish, including the online scheduling tool at podvaccine.azdhs.gov.