State vaccine rates fall along red, blue divide

The U.S. vaccine map looks a lot like a map of how states vote in presidential elections, with most blue states vaccinating at levels well above the national average and GOP states bringing up the rear.

The politics of COVID-19 have been partisan from almost the onset of the pandemic, and polls consistently show that Republicans, particularly men, are more hesitant than Democrats to get vaccinated.

The deep-blue state of Vermont has the highest share of its population with at least one vaccine dose, at 65 percent, according to data compiled by The New York Times, followed by Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Connecticut.

The top 21 states for vaccination rates all went for President Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Iowa — with 47 percent of its population receiving at least one shot — is the highest ranking state on the list, at No. 22, that voted for former President Trump.

Why? A big part of the reason: An NPR-PBS-Marist poll this month found that 41 percent of Republicans said they are not going to get vaccinated, compared to just 4 percent of Democrats who said the same.

Another factor: Megan Ranney, a public health expert at Brown University, said another factor is that red states tend to have less well-funded public health infrastructure, which could make getting shots in people’s arms more difficult.

Another vaccine divide: Urban vs. rural

Vaccination rates are lower in rural counties in the United States than in urban ones, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Tuesday.

The study found that as of April 10, about 39 percent of adults in rural counties had received at least one shot, compared to 46 percent in urban counties. The disparity persisted across age and gender.

Takeaway: The results highlight the need to get vaccines to people in harder-to-reach areas, a focus of the Biden administration in its new phase of the vaccination campaign, now that the most eager people have already received their shots.

The White House announced earlier this month that it would start sending vaccine doses directly to rural health clinics, and has been working with organizations like NASCAR.