CDC research finds variations in protection between rural and concrete areas

An El Paso Fire Department health worker administers the Moderna vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a vaccination center near the Santa Fe International Bridge in El Paso, Texas on May 7, 2021.

Jose Luis Gonzalez | Reuters

According to a new study released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people in rural areas are receiving lower levels of Covid-19 vaccines than in urban areas, potentially boosting the country’s progress in ending the disease Pandemic hinders.

The CDC analyzed county-level vaccine administration data in American adults who received their first dose of the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. It examined data from 49 states and the District of Columbia through April 10.

The agency found, at 38.9% and 45.7%, respectively, a lower percentage of residents in rural districts who had received at least one shot than in urban districts. The CDC also found that people in rural areas who received a vaccine often had to travel further than people in urban areas.

“The hesitation of vaccines in rural areas is a major obstacle that doctors, health care providers and local partners must address in order to achieve equitable vaccination,” the CDC wrote in the report.

“As the availability of COVID-19 vaccines increases, public health doctors should continue to work with health care providers, pharmacies, employers, religious leaders and other partners in the community to identify and address barriers to COVID-19 vaccination in rural areas eliminate, “added the agency.

The new data comes as more studies have shown that rural residents may be more reluctant to get a vaccine. A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation published in April found that three out of ten rural residents either “definitely won’t” get vaccinated or will only do so when needed.

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky brought up the study before it was released Tuesday, saying the Biden administration was determined to reach communities “in every corner of the United States.”

The US is working to “ensure that access to vaccines is fair whether you live in rural or urban areas,” she said during a Covid-19 briefing at the White House. “Public health personnel work nationwide to provide trust information through trusted messengers.”

Walensky said CDC employees attended the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama last weekend, where U.S. health officials were doing Covid tests and vaccinations.

“We’re really making strides across the country to make sure people have access to vaccines,” she said.

Tuesday’s study did not calculate coverage by race and ethnicity, according to the CDC, because information about it was missing for 40% of the data.

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