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New Data from AZ HEROES Research Study Shows COVID Vaccines Highly Effective in Real-World Conditions

 CDC graphic on mRNA COVID vaccine efficacy

Early data from the AZ HEROES research study on the effectiveness of vaccines among healthcare personnel, first responders and frontline workers shows that the vaccines are 90% effective after the recommended two doses, and impressively 80% effective after a single dose. This real-world data confirms trial studies and will reassure the public and healthcare professionals about vaccine effectiveness.


Jeff Burgess, MD, MS, MPH

Jeff Burgess, MD, MS, MPH

Newly released data from the ongoing Arizona Healthcare, Emergency Response, and Other Essential Workers Surveillance (AZ HEROES) research study confirm and enhance the findings from the Phase III clinical trials conducted by Pfizer and Moderna for COVID-19 vaccine approval. The findings, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on March 29, 2021, are the first in the U.S. to measure real-world vaccine effectiveness against both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 and show that both vaccines are highly effective in real-world conditions.

Jeff Burgess, MD, MS, MPH, associate dean for research and professor at the Zuckerman College of Public Health has been leading the AZ HEROES study since it was funded by the CDC in spring 2020. He and his team of researchers and public health students have gathered vital data on COVID immunity and vaccine effectiveness, knowledge that benefits the whole world.

“These new data on the effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are extremely encouraging, and show how important it is for people to get vaccinated,” said Burgess, “Continuing our studies is becoming even more important as COVID-19 variants with increased transmissibility expand globally.”

The published paper incorporates data from two CDC-funded stories: the AZ HEROES study and the Abt Associates-led Research on the Epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in Essential Response Personnel (RECOVER) study. Dr. Burgess works on both studies. Because this was the first research in the United States to support the vaccines effectiveness in real-world conditions, it generated a great deal of media interest. The list of media mentions can be found in the links below. The press release for this story was sent out by UArizona Health Sciences Communications on March 29.

Our college is honored to highlight Jeff Burgess and the AZ HEROES research team! Thanks for all you do to help fight the pandemic, and we are proud to celebrate your successes!

Special shoutout to all the graduate and undergraduate students who participated in the AZ HEROES Study! These students have gained valuable and outstanding real-world experience by working on this project. Thank you for your contributions and hard work!

MEZCOPH Graduate Students:

  • Zoe Baccam
  • Esteban Cardona
  • Adam Carl
  • Emily Cooksey
  • James Hollister
  • Veronica Lugo
  • Joel Parker
  • Alexa Roy
  • Heena Timsina
  • Mandie White

MEZCOPH Undergraduate Students:

  • Genesis Barron
  • Andrea Carmona
  • Natalie Giroux
  • Theresa Hopkins
  • Rezwana Islam
  • Olivia Kavanagh
  • Jonathan Leyva
  • James López
  • Taylor Maldonado
  • Sandra Morman
  • Allyson Munoz
  • Kennedy O'Brien 
  • Isabella Terrazas
  • Tahlia Thompson

Graduate Students from Other Colleges:

  • Erica Vanover-- Chemical and Environmental Engineering (ChEE)

Undergraduate Students from Other Colleges:

  • Kiara Earley—Social & Behavioral Sciences
  • Enrique Marquez--College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST)

Media coverage of the new vaccine efficacy data:

The University of Arizona red triangle graphic