Resistance to COVID-19 vaccines meant 9,000 Arizonans died preventable deaths, report finds

 A man wears a ‘I Do Not Comply’ pin at a protest against masks, COVID-19 vaccines, and vaccine passports outside the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control on March 13, 2021. /Photo by Elijah Nouvelage /Getty Images

Nearly 1 in 3 deaths in Arizona could have been stopped if more people were vaccinated


Arizonans have died from COVID-19 at one of the highest rates in the country, and a new report found that nearly one in every three of those deaths could have been avoided if all adults in the Grand Canyon State were fully vaccinated. 

More than 1 million Americans have died from COVID-19, and the researchers concluded that nearly one-third — more than 318,000 of those deaths — could have been prevented if more people were vaccinated. Arizona eclipsed 30,000 deaths earlier this month.

In Arizona, 62% of people are fully vaccinated — less than the national vaccination rate of 67%, placing the state at 28th overall. But Arizona is among the worst for COVID-19 deaths, coming in at No. 4 — behind Oklahoma, Alabama and West Virginia — for deaths per 1 million people. 

Using “real-world data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York Times,” a new analysis from researchers at the Brown School of Public Health found that 9,427 deaths could have been prevented in Arizona if all adults were fully vaccinated. At 90%, 6,883 deaths would have been preventable, and 5,579 deaths could have been avoided with an 85% vaccination rate.

The report was done in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Microsoft AI for Health. They analyzed data between January 2021 and April 2022, when vaccines were widely available. 

A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Health Services provided a written statement to the Arizona Mirror that didn’t address the new report or how Arizona could have prevented deaths by doing more to get Arizonans vaccinated, instead lamenting that people have continued to die, even after the vaccine was so widely available. 

“It is heartbreaking to lose people to COVID-19 when science has given us a way to put this invisible killer in its place through vaccines that dramatically reduce the chances of severe illness, hospitalization and death,” ADHS spokesman Steve Elliott said. 


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