Hesitancy to get the COVID-19 vaccine is a “major barrier” to equitable distribution in the United States in rural areas, where Americans were inoculated against the virus at lower rates than urbanites between mid-December 2020 and April 10 of this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC provided the information in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Tuesday.
According to the report, a March 2021 poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found 21 percent of rural residents said they would “definitely not” get vaccinated, compared with 10 percent of urban residents. And between Dec. 14, 2020 and April 10, the report said, “vaccination coverage was lower in rural counties (38.9%) than in urban counties (45.7%).”
The divide is bad news, the report said, for officials and health providers battling the pandemic, which has killed more than 583,000 people in the US.
“Disparities in COVID-19 vaccination access and coverage between urban and rural communities can hinder progress toward ending the pandemic,” the report said. “Public health practitioners should collaborate with health care providers, pharmacies, employers, faith leaders, and other community partners to identify and address barriers to COVID-19 vaccination in rural areas.”
In Massachusetts, 7.1 million vaccine doses had been administered as of Monday, and 3.2 million people had been fully vaccinated in the state, which boasts some of the world’s top teaching hospitals, research facilities, and biotech firms.
Residents are considered fully vaccinated once they get two shots, spaced weeks apart, of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson jab.
Governor Charlie Baker told reporters Monday that Massachusetts “is on track to meet the goal of vaccinating 4.1 million residents by the first week of June.”
The state’s weekly vaccination report released Thursday said that as of Tuesday of last week, the largely urban Suffolk County — which includes Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop — had 57 percent of residents with at least one vaccine dose, compared to 59 percent in Berkshire County, a predominantly rural area in the westernmost part of the state.
Forty-three percent of residents in both Suffolk and Berkshire counties were fully vaccinated as of May 11, per the state’s weekly report.