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Disparity Between Rural and Urban COVID Vaccination Rates

01/23/2022

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of January 13th, 47.9 percent of the rural population was “completely” vaccinated against COVID.  In contrast, in metropolitan counties, 61.1 percent of the population was “completely” vaccinated.  The rural rate is 22 percent lower than the urban rate on a percentage basis.  The COVID death rate is 30 percent higher in rural counties than in metropolitan areas but with a 25 percent lower incidence rate at present. 

 

 

The lower vaccination rate in rural counties is presumably due to the lower level of interaction that would be expected in urban communities associated with public transport, workplace contacts and entertainment events.  Florida has the widest gap between urban and rural vaccination rates at 64 percent and 44 percent respectively.  Georgia has a rural vaccination rate of 24 percent of the total population, although this figure may be an underestimate as some rural residents were vaccinated in cities.

 

The CDC considers two doses of an mRNA vaccine as being “completely” vaccinated.  Experience in the E.U. and in the U.S. suggests that a booster dose is necessary to provide a high level of durable immunity against the Delta and Omicron variants.  Given the high incidence rate of infections since December 2020, it is possible that the U.S. is moving towards endemic infection with the majority of the population expressing a protective level of antibody stimulated by either vaccination or exposure.  Rural communities will however serve as a source of infection since a high proportion of susceptible individuals will maintain the circulation of SARS-CoV-2 and may even lead to the emergence of variants by mutation. 

 

The policy of the large red meat packers and poultry processors of either mandating or encouraging vaccination will reduce the incidence of COVID in plants and also in rural communities where large instllations are located. This will provide a protective benefit to all residents of communities surrounding a plant. 

 

Effective January 18th 530 million doses of COVID vaccine have been administered in the U.S. with 2009 million, or 63.4 percent, of the population having received two doses.  A total of 81.7 million have received a booster dose and can be regarded as “fully protected” by vaccination. Although 75.2 percent of the U.S. population or 249.7 million, have received one dose of mRNA vaccine, they are inadequately protected and have a significantly higher probability of either severe clinical symptoms, hospitalization, admission to ICU, chronic COVID or even death compared to fully vaccinated individuals, if exposed to SARS-CoV-2 virus.