Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Between Urban and Rural Counties — U.S. December 14, 2020–January 31, 2022
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Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Between Urban and Rural Counties — U.S. December 14, 2020–January 31, 2022

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    • Alternative Title:
      MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
    • Description:
      Higher COVID-19 incidence and Mortality rates in rural than in urban areas are well documented (1). These disparities persisted during the B.1.617.2 (Delta) and B.1.1.529 (Omicron) Variants surges during late 2021 and early 2022 (1,2). Rural populations tend to be older (aged ≥65 years) and uninsured and are more likely to have underlying medical conditions and live farther from facilities that provide tertiary medical care, placing them at higher risk for adverse COVID-19 outcomes (2). To better understand COVID-19 vaccination disparities between urban and rural populations, CDC analyzed county-level vaccine administration data among persons aged ≥5 years who received their first dose of either the BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) or mRNA-1273 (Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine or a single dose of the Ad.26.COV2.S (Janssen [Johnson & Johnson]) COVID-19 vaccine during December 14, 2020-January 31, 2022, in 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC). COVID-19 vaccination coverage with ≥1 doses in rural areas (58.5%) was lower than that in urban counties (75.4%) overall, with similar patterns across age groups and sex. Coverage with ≥1 doses varied among states: 46 states had higher coverage in urban than in rural counties, one had higher coverage in rural than in urban counties. Three states and DC had no rural counties; thus, urban-rural differences could not be assessed. COVID-19 vaccine primary series completion was higher in urban than in rural counties. However, receipt of booster or additional doses among primary series recipients was similarly low between urban and rural counties. Compared with estimates from a previous study of vaccine coverage among adults aged ≥18 years during December 14, 2020-April 10, 2021, these urban-rural disparities among those now eligible for vaccination (aged ≥5 years) have increased more than twofold through January 2022, despite increased availability and access to COVID-19 vaccines. Addressing barriers to vaccination in rural areas is critical to achieving vaccine equity, reducing disparities, and decreasing COVID-19-related illness and death in the U.S. (2).
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