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Curbing vaccine hesitancy in Pima County

Posted at 10:19 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 01:19:27-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Pima County Supervisor and medical doctor, Matt Heinz says 70-percent of adults would need to be vaccinated or immune through infection.

"Then you're at that herd immunity level."

The State's Health Department reports Pima County at about 39 percent of adults vaccinated at least once, just a bit lower than the state average.

Heinz said each person who gets vaccinated gets us closer to life before the pandemic.

"The faster we get to that herd immunity level in our communities, the faster we can more fully open up society and our economies."

The current obstacle to herd immunity?

Convincing people the vaccine is safe.

"It's not necessarily people that are anti-vaccine or anti-vaxxers."

Heinz said most people who haven't been vaccinated are hesitant but for pretty relatable reasons.

"People are busy, they haven't had time to do some research, they're understandably concerned about anyone running toward them with a needle."

Heinz said the county is stepping up to take on this challenge, all toward the goal of herd immunity.

"Chief focus right now is to kind of cut through that hesitancy to really educate people as to why it's important to get the vaccine."

It takes finding people where they're at.

"We're identifying where we are still effective and where things seem to be leveling out or maybe even dropping off in terms of vaccine appointments."

Fewer of them than before, he said, are at the larger vaccine sites.

"We're seeing more vaccine and fewer arms to put the vaccine into."

But he added mobile vaccine sites have actually been a bright spot in the effort to get more shots in arms.

"Our mobile units that are bouncing around to churches and to high schools and elementary schools, those are doing very well still," Heinz said.

"We need to really double, triple down on the things that are most effective."

The county, he said, is putting money to that very cause, investing almost $300,000 with the same marketing firm that helped spread the word about washing your hands and wearing a mask.

"We need you to help augment our continued message about the importance of getting vaccinated, how safe it is."

Click here to find a vaccine site near you.