The vaccination gap: Data reveals Trump country lags behind in getting Covid shots

The vaccination gap: Data reveals Trump country lags behind in getting Covid shots
Frontpage news and politics

One of the bogus claims that is sometimes made in right-wing media outlets is that former President Donald Trump is responsible for decreasing COVID-19 infection rates and increased COVID-19 vaccination rates in the United States — and that President Joe Biden is wrongly, unfairly getting the credit for Trump's achievements. The problem with that argument is that the parts of the U.S. where people are more likely to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and less likely to become seriously ill from it are generally Democrat-leaning areas. According to reporting from KFF and Michigan-based blogger Charles Gaba, pro-Trump areas generally have the lowest vaccination rates — while areas where Biden performed well in the 2020 presidential election have the highest.

Axios reporter Caitlin Owens explains, "The gap in vaccination rates between counties that voted for Donald Trump and those that voted for President Biden in 2020 is only getting bigger with time, according to a new KFF analysis. Why it matters: Vaccination rates provide the strongest indication of which communities are still vulnerable to outbreaks as the Delta variant rapidly spreads…. The virus is still killing hundreds of Americans every day, and experts fear that number will only rise with the spread of new variants."

KFF's analysis is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Comparing counties that favored Trump in 2020 to counties that favored Biden in 2020, KFF found that overall, 46% of adults living in pro-Biden counties had been at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19 — whereas in the pro-Trump counties, the number was only 35%.

KFF reporters Jennifer Kates, Jennifer Tolbert and Kendal Orgera note how much that vaccination gap between pro-Biden counties and pro-Trump counties has widened since April.

According to Kates, Tolbert and Orgera, "While the share of the total population that is fully vaccinated has increased for both county groups, it has increased faster in counties that voted for Biden, resulting in a widening gap. Three months ago, as of April 22, the average vaccination rate in counties that voted for Trump was 20.6% compared to 22.8% in Biden counties, yielding a relatively small gap of 2.2 percentage points. By May 11, the gap had increased to 6.5% — and by July 6, 11.7%, with the average vaccination rate in Trump counties at 35% compared to 46.7% in Biden counties."

When one factors in partial vaccination for COVID-19, the rates are higher.

Since being sworn in as president on January 20, Biden has been aggressively encouraging Americans to get vaccinated for COVID-19 — stressing that the more Americans get vaccinated, the sooner the U.S. will be able to achieve some type of herd immunity and get back to normal. Biden's goal was for 70%of U.S. adults to be at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19 by July 4; the president fell short of that goal, but not by much. According to National Public Radio, 67% of U.S. adults were at least partially vaccinated by U.S. Independence Day.

That 67% figure factors in states and countries of all political stripes. Some blue states have above-average vaccination rates. For example, Massachusetts, NPR reported, has a 70% rate of at least partial vaccination. And according to the website, 70% of residents of deep blue Philadelphia County were at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19 as of June 21. Although Pennsylvania is very much a swing state and went to Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020, a Republican hasn't won a mayoral race in Philly since Bernard Samuel won a third term in 1948.

On his website, Gaba takes a look at some "outliers" when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination rates in blue counties versus red counties. There are some heavily Democratic counties with low COVID-19 vaccination rates, and Gaba offers some reasons why they don't have the higher vaccination rates that most Democratic counties have.

"As I've been noting for months — and as the mainstream press has finally started picking up on — while there are several factors explaining why so many people haven't gotten vaccinated yet, the single biggest determining factor is their political lean and, even more specifically, who they voted for president last fall," Gaba explains. "However, there are some outliers, as you would expect when you're looking at a nation of over 330 million people."

Those "outliers," according to Gaba, include the "deep blue, low-vaxx" category.

"What's going on there?" Gaba writes. "Shouldn't these deep-blue counties have higher-than-average vaccination rates? Well, I looked up the demographic breakout of all 77 counties via Wikipedia and found something which is both deeply concerning and at the same time, not at all surprising: 62 of them are more than 40% Black. In fact, 55 of those are majority Black counties. Of the remaining 13 counties, seven are majority Native American — over 80% of the population, in fact — while one in Texas, Zavala County, is '91.22% Hispanic or Latino of any race, according to Wikipedia.'"

Gaba points out that anti-vaxxer attitudes are not widespread among African-Americans, only 15% of whom, according to a recent YouGov/Yahoo News poll, are dead set against getting a COVID-19 vaccine. And Gaba offers some reasons why there are this many non-White Americans who haven't been vaccinated but would like to be.

"Needless to say, there's a serious problem here," Gaba writes. "On average, only 35% of the total populations of these counties have been vaccinated so far. Considering that only 15% of the Black population nationally say that they refuse to get vaccinated, this seems to be a situation where at least 30-40% or so of the rest of the population is willing to get vaccinated — if issues of access, transportation, time off of work etc. are resolved."

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