The proportion of rural residents who are completely vaccinated against Covid-19 rose by half a percentage point last week. But part of that gain came from previously administered vaccinations that were simply revised to record geographic information.
As of Thursday, October 14, 43.2% of the nation’s rural population had completed a Covid-19 vaccination regimen (two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine).
The metropolitan vaccination rate is 11.9 points higher – 55.1% of total population.
- Michigan had the biggest percentage-point increase in new rural vaccinations. But the large gains in both rural and metropolitan vaccinations came primarily from “unallocated” vaccinations that were recoded to reflect county of origin information. (For more on this, see the section “Unallocated” below.)
- Kentucky had the highest actual percentage-point increase in its rural vaccination rate. The rural rate climbed by about 0.7 points, to 44.2%. Kentucky ranks 25th nationally in its rural vaccination rate, out of 47 states that have nonmetropolitan counties.
- Washington, California, Wisconsin, and Hawaii all increased their rural vaccination rates by more than 0.6 percentage points last week. Each of those states has a rural vaccination rate above the national average. (See a list of states by rural and metro vaccinations rates below.)
- Several states raised their rural vaccination rates by more than half a percentage point last week. These were Oregon, South Carolina, New Mexico, Tennessee, North Carolina, Wyoming, Utah, Texas, and Georgia.
- West Virginia, which ranks second from the bottom in rural vaccinations, added only a tenth of a percentage point to its rural rate, which stands at 22.3%. The actual rural rate is likely a bit better, because 16.3% of the state’s population is vaccinated but not recorded at the county level, meaning it can’t be included in the rural or metropolitan vaccination rates.
- Georgia, which also has a high unallocated percentage, ranks last in the nation in rural vaccinations, at 20.9% of the state’s rural population.
About 6% of the vaccinations recorded for both rural and metropolitan counties last week came from “unallocated” vaccinations. These are vaccinations that were previously tabulated only at the state level and not assigned to specific counties. When large numbers of these previously unallocated vaccinations are assigned to counties, the change can artificially inflate the weekly data for both rural and metropolitan counties.
Michigan was the big outlier in unallocated vaccinations last week. The state recategorized nearly 200,000 previously unallocated vaccinations, which was a major part of the big jumps in rural and metropolitan vaccination rates. The state only delivered about 9,400 new vaccinations last week (about 0.01% of the state population). But because of recategorization of unallocated vaccinations, the rural rate climbed by 2.4 percentage points (to 49.2%) and the metro rate climbed 2.0 percentage points (to 52.3%).
Data and Methods
The report covers Friday, October 8, through Thursday, October 14.
We use the Office of Management and Budget’s Metropolitan Statistical Area system in our analysis. We define “rural” as nonmetropolitan counties.
Data comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from state departments of health for Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Texas.