Despite the fact that nearly two-thirds of the total U.S. population have been fully vaccinated (two doses) against COVID-19, these numbers are much lower in specific parts of the U.S. For example, according to the New York Times, only 50% of Alabamians and Wyomingites are vaccinated, along with 51% of Mississippians and 52% of Louisianians. The reason for these low rates has less to do with access and more to do with vaccine hesitancy, which varies significantly by geographic region and state. A recent U.S. News & World Report interactive highlighted differences in vaccine hesitancy by state, showing that almost 30% of adults in West Virginia say that they will probably or definitely not get the COVID-19 vaccine, with similar rates in the states of Idaho, Wyoming, and Ohio. In contrast, New England states (along with California) have vaccine hesitancy rates below 10%.
Our health center research brief, Identifying Health Centers in Areas with Low Rates of Vaccine Confidence and High Rates of Unvaccinated or Incomplete Vaccination, focuses on identifying geographic clusters of counties with both low rates of vaccine confidence and low rates of COVID-19 vaccination. Using Geographic Information Systems, we found that counties in the southeast, particularly Georgia and Alabama, and the Dakotas are within clusters of counties with high vaccine hesitancy and low COVID-19 vaccination rates. Additionally, we found that these counties are well-served by the Health Center Program, as seen in the above map. In fact, 102 health center organizations serve nearly 2 million patients within these clusters, which we call “priority counties.”
We hope to do further research examining Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program participant location and any associations with vaccine hesitancy. Read all of our health center research, or let us know what you think.