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Arizona vaccine rates for COVID-19, flu lag as holidays approach

Thanksgiving gatherings and travel are just weeks away, and respiratory-illness season is ramping up.

But is anybody getting vaccinated?

The COVID-19 variants now circulating are a far cry from the ones initial vaccines targeted, and their protection has faded over time.

Yet, just 17% of people in the U.S. — and less than 16% of Arizonans — have receive the latest booster.

That’s troubling. Despite the popular idea that youth is protection against the coronavirus, COVID can send seemingly healthy children to the hospital, for reasons experts don’t fully understand.

And, as always, staying current with vaccines remains vital for older adults and people with underlying health conditions, who are also at higher risk for more serious symptoms.

Flu vaccines among people age 17 and younger resemble last year’s rates — around one-quarter of young people in the U.S and one-fifth in Arizona — even though kids are more susceptible to the flu and more likely to have severe complications from it.

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Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.