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An additional 408,000 rural Americans completed their Covid-19 vaccinations last week, bringing the total number of rural residents who are completely vaccinated against the respiratory disease to 15.4 million.

At least 33.5% of the 46 million Americans who live in nonmetropolitan counties are completely vaccinated for Covid-19. That’s an increase of 0.9 percentage points from two weeks ago.

In metropolitan counties, the completed-vaccination rate grew by 1.5 percentage points over the last week, to 43.2% of the total population.

That means the gap between the rural and metropolitan vaccination rates grew slightly last week to 9.7 percentage points (see graph below).

The pace of rural vaccinations completed last week dropped by about 4% compared to two weeks ago, when 425,000 rural residents completed vaccinations.

The Daily Yonder’s vaccine analysis is based on data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments in Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Texas. The report covers Tuesday, June 15, through Monday, June 21.

Highest Rates of Rural Vaccination

  • New England continues to dominate the list of states with the highest cumulative rural and statewide vaccination rates. Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine have the highest rural rates, as they have for several weeks. Vermont has the 10th best rural vaccination rate in the U.S. and ranks first in the U.S. on a statewide basis. Rhode Island, although it does not have any nonmetropolitan counties, has the fifth best statewide rate in the U.S.
  • Rounding out the top-10 best states for rural vaccinations are Hawaii, Arizona, Maryland, New York, and Alaska, with rural completed vaccination rates ranging from nearly 50% for Hawaii to 45.5% for Alaska.
  • New England has the highest cumulative vaccination rates and is also adding new vaccinations at at a higher rate than much of the nation. Massachusetts and Connecticut vaccinated an additional 2.3% of the rural population last week. The states were best in new vaccinations, even though their previous success means they have a smaller unvaccinated population to draw from.
  • Of states where a million or more people live in nonmetropolitan counties, New York has the highest vaccination rate, at 46%. Of other states with over a million rural residents, the ones with best rural vaccination rates are Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Michigan, all with rates of around 42% of rural population.

Lowest Rates

  • On the other end of the scale, Georgia has the worst rate of completed rural vaccinations, at just 12.2% of the rural population. The state has a high percentage of vaccinations not allocated to specific counties, so the rural rate is likely a bit higher. But Georgia’s statewide rate, which does include unallocated vaccinations, is seventh from the bottom in the U.S.
  • Virginia, on the other hand, which ranks second from the bottom in rural vaccinations at 17.7%, probably has significantly more rural vaccinations than appear in the official tally. A quarter of the state population that has been vaccinated is unallocated, meaning it isn’t part of the rural figures. And Virginia is also in the top third of the U.S. for statewide vaccinations, at 51.1% of total population.
  • West Virginia has the third-lowest rural vaccination rate, at 18.5%. The state has a relatively high rate of unallocated vaccinations (16.5% of the statewide population has received a vaccination but was not assigned to a specific county), which could mean the official tally ranks the state lower in rural vaccinations than is accurate. But the statewide vaccination rate of 36.5% puts it in the bottom third of the U.S.

Notable Regions

  • The Four Corners region of Arizona and New Mexico, which was hard-hit with Covid-19 infections and deaths relatively early in the pandemic, continue to exceed the national adjusted vaccination rate, largely because of tribal responses. In nonmetropolitan McKinley County, New Mexico, which contains portions of the Navajo Nation and the Zuni Indian Reservation, more than 80% of the population has been completely vaccinated. Seven nearby counties have vaccination rates over 50% of total population.
  • On the Arizona side of the border, Apache County has vaccinated more than half of its population. Apache County contains Navajo, Zuni, San Carlos Apache, and White Mountain Apache tribal lands.
  • Parts of the Texas border are also achieving above-average levels of vaccination. In the Trans-Pecos region of western Texas, the border county of Presidio, where more than 80% of the population is Hispanic or Latino, has a vaccination rate of 67.7%. Several nearby counties have rates above the national average. In Southern Texas, rural Starr County has vaccinated 54% of its population, and six nearby counties have rates above the national average.

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