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The pace of newly completed vaccinations in rural counties dropped by nearly half in the past three weeks.

Rural (nonmetro) counties completed new Covid-19 vaccinations for about 240,000 people the first week of October. Three weeks ago, nearly 450,000 rural Americans were newly vaccinated.

Metropolitan counties also saw a similar percentage decline in the number of new vaccinations.

As of Thursday, October 7, 42.6% of the total rural (nonmetropolitan) population was completely vaccinated against Covid-19. That’s an increase from two weeks ago of 0.5 percentage points. The gap between the rural and metropolitan vaccination rates remained at about 12 percentage points.

Rural counties had seen a resurgence in new vaccinations throughout most of August and September. The surge in new vaccinations (which roughly followed the Delta variant surge) peaked the week of September 23 and has fallen for the past two weeks. Metropolitan counties followed a similar pattern.

 Rural vaccination rates ranges from a high of 71.7% of total population in Massachusetts to a low of 20.4% in Georgia. (Georgia’s rural rate is artificially suppressed by a large number of vaccinations that are not allocated to specific counties and so can’t be analyzed as rural or metro. But the state is in the bottom 10 nationally for statewide vaccination rates.)

Regionally, the Northeast had the highest rural vaccination rates. Hawaii and Arizona also ranked near the top. Arizona had the fifth highest rural vaccination rate, thanks to high numbers of vaccinations in Indian Country. Western New Mexico, which also has a high percentage of Native Americans, also had above average vaccination rates.

The South and the Great Plains had the lowest regional rates.

Nearly 90% of the nation’s 1,976 nonmetropolitan counties were below the national adjusted vaccination rate. More than a third were very low – 30% lower than the national average.

Among metropolitan counties, about a third were above the national average and 70% were below.

Guide to the Map

The map above shows the vaccination rate for rural and metropolitan counties. Counties above the national average are shown in green (dark green for rural, light green for metropolitan). Counties slightly below the national average are shown in brown (rural) and orange (metropolitan). Counties with very low vaccination rates were shown in red (rural) and light red/pink (metropolitan).

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