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More than half of the nation’s rural counties increased their pace of new vaccinations last week, an indication that the rapidly spreading delta variant of Covid-19 is encouraging unvaccinated Americans to take action.

Each of the 47 states in the Union with rural counties had larger numbers of rural vaccinations last week than two weeks ago. (Delaware, New Jersey, and Rhode Island do not have any rural counties; rural is defined as nonmetropolitan in the Daily Yonder’s Covid-19 analysis.)

A total of 260,695 additional rural Americans completed their vaccination regimen last week, up 74% from two weeks ago.

The new vaccinations bring the national rural vaccination rate to 36.7% of the rural population. That’s an increase of 0.5 percentage points from two weeks ago.

Despite the gains, the rural vaccination rate remains much lower than the metropolitan rate. The metro vaccination rate rose 0.7 percentage points to 48.0% of the total metropolitan population.

This week’s vaccination analysis covers Friday, July 30, through Thursday, August 5. Data comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, except for Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Texas, for which data comes from state departments of health.

  • Colorado had the biggest one-week growth in its rural vaccination rate (climbing from 33% to 47% of the rural population). But much of the change was likely due to the state doing a better job of recording the locations of the vaccinations, rather than an on-the-ground difference in rural vaccination numbers.
  • Rounding out the five states with the biggest one-week increase in rural vaccination rates were Massachusetts, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Maine, states that already had above-average rural vaccinations rates.
  • Arkansas and Missouri ranked sixth and seventh in one-week increases in rural vaccination rates. Those states have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S. and are at the epicenter of the delta-variant surge that is behind the nation’s rapidly increasing new-infection rate. Arkansas and Missouri each increased their rural vaccination rates by 0.6 percentage points, to 30.6% and 28.7% respectively.
  • Louisiana, which currently has the highest rate of new Covid-19 infections, had a rural-vaccination-rate increase of only 0.3%, climbing to 27.8% of the rural population.

The Daily Yonder’s vaccination rate is based on the percentage of the total population that has completed vaccination. Only residents ages 12 and up are currently eligible for vaccination.