(June 30) The gap between the most vaccinated and least vaccinated places in the U.S. has exploded in the past three months, and continues to widen despite efforts to convince more Americans to get a Covid shot.
On a national level, the news appears good. About 300,000 new people are getting a Covid vaccine every day in the U.S., and 54% of the full U.S population has at least one dose. The country’s vaccine campaign is among the most successful in the world, states have lifted restrictions on business and socializing, and hospitalizations have plunged.
But newly available county-level data show how those national figures hide very different local vaccine realities.
In the least vaccinated group of counties, many of which are in the South and Central regions of the U.S., less than half as many people have gotten at least one Covid vaccine dose as in the most vaccinated counties in the cities and on the coasts. Those less vaccinated places are not catching up, either. The gap between more- and less-vaccinated counties is expanding, and the trailing counties are far below levels needed to halt future waves of infection.
In the bottom fifth of counties — which tend to be more rural, more poor, less educated and more likely to lean politically to the right — only 28% of people have received a first dose of a vaccine, on average, and 24% are fully vaccinated. The slowing rate of new vaccinations shows that despite the Biden administration’s “month of action” to hit its vaccine target of 70% of adults with at least one dose by July 4, some areas are proving hard to reach.
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