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Rural counties logged more new vaccinations last week than they have at any time since early June.

Nearly 450,000 rural Americans completed their Covid-19 vaccinations last week, bringing the rural rate of completed vaccinations to 41.4% of the population. That's an increase of 1 percentage point from last week.

In metropolitan counties, the vaccination rate climbed by 1.1 percentage points to 53.3% of the total population.

The gap between the rural and urban vaccination rates grew slightly to 11.9 percentage points. (See graph).

The number of vaccinations completed each week has been on the rise since mid-August. Rural counties reported completing 50% more vaccinations in September than in August. In metro counties, completed vaccinations were up 30% in September over August.

State Increases in Rural Vaccinations

Let’s look first at the states that vaccinated the greatest percentage of their rural populations last week.

  • California had the highest percentage-point increase in rural vaccinations last week. The state completed vaccinations for an additional 1.5% of its rural population, while increasing the percentage of metropolitan residents who are vaccinated by 0.9.
  • The next biggest percentage point increase in rural vaccinations occurred in Georgia last week. The state raised the percent of rural population that is completely vaccinated by 1.2 points.
  • Alabama increased rural vaccinations by 1.1 percentage points, the third highest increase in the U.S.
  • Kentucky and Louisiana tied for fourth, with increases of 1.0 percentage point.
  • Three of the five states with the highest percentage-point increases in rural vaccination rates have some of nation’s lowest cumulative rural vaccination rates. Georgia is lowest, with just 19% of the rural population vaccinated (a figure that is likely slightly higher because of a large number of unallocated vaccinations that aren’t assigned to counties and so aren’t part of this analysis). Alabama has the nation’s third lowest rural vaccination rate, at 39.9% of total population. And Louisiana’s 35% rural vaccination rate is the fifth lowest in the U.S.
  • California ((49.1%) ranks 13th for rural vaccinations, and Kentucky (41.8%) ranks 23rd.
  • Virginia had a large increase in rural vaccinations last week on paper, but most of the gains came from previous vaccinations that were assigned to rural counties after going on the books first as unallocated.

Raw-Number Increases

  • In raw number of rural vaccinations, Texas had the most with about 25,500, which amounts to about 0.8% of the state’s rural population. In Texas, 35.8% of the rural population has been completely vaccinated.
  • The next states with the largest number of rural completed vaccinations delivered last week were Georgia (21,000), North Carolina (19,000), Kentucky (18,600), and Mississippi (14,700).

Biggest Gaining Counties

  • California had three of the 10 counties with the biggest percentage-point increase in rural vaccinations last week. They were Calaveras (up 8 points), Amador (up 3.3), and Tuolumne (up 3.1).
  • Texas had two of the top 10: Gonzales (up 2.5), and Fayette (up 2.4).
  • Other states in the top 10 were Colorado (Pitkin, up 3.5), Wisconsin (Menominee, up 2.7), North Carolina (Pasquotank, up 2.7), Louisiana (Tensas Parish, up 2.4), Georgia (Early, up 2.3). Honorable mention goes to Leslie County, Kentucky, which ranked 11th with an increase of 2.3 percentage points).

State Gaps Between Rural and Urban Rates

Another way to look at rural vaccinations is to compare the rural and urban vaccinations within individual states.

  • Florida has the biggest gap, with the rural rate being 18 percentage points lower than the metropolitan rate. The rural rate is 37.9% while the metropolitan rate is 56.4%.
  • Nebraska is next, with rural counties completing vaccinations at a rate 17.5 percentage points below the metropolitan rate (36.9% vs. 54.4%).
  • Illinois, Texas, and Missouri all have metro rates between 12 and 13 percentage points higher than the rural rates.
  • On the other end of the spectrum are five states where the rural vaccination rate exceeds the metropolitan rate. In Arizona, the rural rate is 12.8 percentage points higher than the metro rate (61.5% for rural vs. 48.8% metropolitan).
  • Alaska has a rural vaccination rate that is 6.7 percentage points higher than the metro rate (53.2% vs. 46.4%).
  • Rural rates are also higher than metro ones in New Hampshire (3.7 percentage points higher), Massachusetts (1.7 points higher), and Connecticut (0.2 points higher).

Best State Rates

The top five states for best rural vaccination rates remained unchanged this week. The list below can be sorted by state or the vaccination rates for rural, metro, and unallocated categories.

Data Information

Data comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state health departments of Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Texas. Our analysis is based on completed vaccinations, and rates are expressed as a percent of total population (including children under 12, who are currently not eligible for vaccination). The period covered is Friday, September 16, to Thursday, September 23.

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