PHOENIX — Earlier this week, Maricopa County Health Department debuted the COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, giving insight as to who is getting the vaccine and who isn’t.
“Thank you Maricopa County because it’s all out there bare for all to see,” said former state health director Will Humble on Friday afternoon moments after Dr. Christ, the current health director, held a press conference saying the disparity due to the specific professional that are part of group 1A.
“It just shows you that the priority is State Farm because of the optics and image that they created out there. and it’s coming at the expense of low-income communities because you can see the daily allocations favoring State Farm over these low-income communities,” added Humble.
From Humble to Tomas Leon of Equality Health Foundation to ABC15’s Data Guru Garrett Archer, they all agree that the data being presented by the county shows that those in wealthier zip codes are getting vaccinated at higher rates.
“It’s [the vaccine] is not reaching the very people who have been impacted the most by the virus. These are people of color, Hispanic, African American community has been devastated by COVID-19,” says Tomas Leon of the Equality Health Foundation.
One clear example of the disparity among zip codes in Maricopa County is 85009. Phoenix- has the lowest vaccination rate in Maricopa County.
Garrett Archer says, “85009 has the lowest vaccination rate in Maricopa County. This zip code also happens to have, it’s 90% minority in that zip code,” says ABC15 Data Analyst Garrett Archer.
The state health department trying to level out the playing field, telling ABC15 that starting in March, they will open up ‘micro pods (points of dispension)’ in zip codes with low vaccine rates like Maryvale and South Phoenix. Dr. Christ also told a group of reporters they are working on getting transportation for those who need to get to a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
“You have to meet people where they are. That’s what this model is about, it’s taking the vaccines into the community to the people who have been the hardest hit by this pandemic,” added Leon.
The vaccine likely to be dispensed at the ‘micro pods’ is Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which requires just one dose compared to both Pfizer and Moderna, which require a booster shot. Also, starting on Monday, the registration portal will be offered in Spanish.
Still, Dr. Christ’s former boss, Will Humble, critical of the online registration system- saying it’s a ‘Darwinian, gold rush system’ should be changed to a random selection so it equalizes the opportunity no matter the person’s job or ability to a good broadband internet system.
"We know that the appointment website is favoring wealthy people. It can be fixed over a weekend, by Tuesday morning. if I were in my old position, we would roll out the new system by Tuesday and it would provide a level playing field for everybody, including low-income seniors,” says Humble.
According to ABC15’s Data Guru, seven out of the top ten zip codes in Maricopa County that have received the first dose are zip codes where the median income is $80,000. Of those seven zip codes, four of them have a median income of $100,000.
‘Any system that is a supply and demand system that relies on internet connection and availability of time, is going to always skew higher-income individuals because those are business owners or people who have time to get in line and sign up,” added Archer.