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Exchange: Rights concerns curb vaccinations in Mohave County

Exchange: Rights concerns curb vaccinations in Mohave County

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FILE — In this Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 file photo, a nurse loads a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Jackson, Miss. Millions of Americans are now eligible to receive a Pfizer booster shot to help increase their protection against the worst effects of the coronavirus.

LAKE HAVASU CITY — Mohave County has the worst vaccination percentage of any county in Arizona, and while some local leaders are being careful not to trample on individual freedoms, there are some residents who say they wish more was being done.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health Services as of Friday, 39.2% of Mohave County’s 212,181 residents were fully vaccinated. This percentage is far below the 57.6% of Arizonans who are fully vaccinated and trailing some other counties, such as Apache with 85.2% of the population vaccinated.

Lake Havasu City couple John and Roxanne Buonauro, local artists who are both vaccinated, said they are concerned about living in the county with the worst vaccination rate in the state.

John Buonauro said he is perplexed by the hesitancy people have to get the vaccine, Today’s News-Herald reported.

“Just having (the vaccine) available is huge. mRNA what miracle of science, what a miracle to mankind,” John said. “For people just to disregard it … I don’t understand.”

Before the pandemic, Roxanne said, the two would got out frequently to shows and other events. Now the couple plans to bring a portable UV light air purifier on their next vacation in 2022.

Both Roxanne and John said they would like to see the government take more action to get citizens vaccinated.

“Hell yes, I want the whole state to get on it,” John said. “What’s with the governor? Playing politics instead of looking after citizens.”

However, it doesn’t look like Mohave County will be granting the Buonauros’ wish.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 7 voted to pass the Health Care Freedom resolution, a mostly symbolic gesture, which says no one should be required to get the COVID-19 vaccination.

“You see people wearing masks in the stores. It’s a minority of people, but I think basically they are adults, so they can make their own decision. They don’t need Big Brother telling them what to do,” Supervisor Ron Gould said at the meeting.

County Public Health Director Denise Burley says that while many Mohave County residents are hesitant to get the shot because of how new the vaccine is, another big reason for the hesitancy is political.

“Additionally, Mohave County is a politically conservative county with much of the population that believes strongly in individual freedom with no government involvement in the personal lives of its citizens; therefore, if there is the perception that the government is attempting to coerce people into getting a vaccine, there will be resistance,” Burly said.

Currently the CDC says that Mohave County is at a high transmission rate and masks should be worn in public indoor areas. Burley says this current wave of COVID-19 has the second highest number of cases in the county since the start of the pandemic.

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