A new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that the rate of hospitalization and death due to COVID19 is much higher in rural areas of the US. The vaccine coverage in the countryside as well is lagging behind cities. The director of the CDC Rochelle Walensky has said that nearly 60 percent of people who are 18 years or above have been vaccinated at least with the first dose of the vaccine in the US. She has said that it is a landmark achievement for the country. On the other hand, health experts have said that the country requires vaccinating at least 70 to 85 percent of its population to achieve herd immunity. In such a case, rural America is far behind, said the experts. As per the report, in the first week of April, the vaccine coverage in rural areas of the US has been around 39 percent as compared to 46 percent vaccine coverage in urban areas of the US. The data has been taken from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Experts have said that COVID cases in rural counties have been quite higher as compared to urban cities in September 2020. The officials of the CDC have said that making vaccine available to people who are living in rural areas of the US is quite hard. They have said that around 80 percent of such people from rural America reside in regions that are nominated as medically underserved by the US government. Experts have said that easy access to health care is quite hard for people living in these areas.
Health experts have said that vaccine hesitancy as well is a big problem in rural counties of the US. A survey that has been done by the Kaiser Family Foundation has found that there has been a persistent resistance to the COVID19 vaccine in rural areas of the US. In the survey, around 3 out of 10 people have said that they will not take the COVID19 vaccine. The percentage of vaccine hesitancy is greater in rural areas as compared to urban or suburban areas, said the experts. The officials from the agency have said that people who are living in rural areas are more susceptible to COVID19 due to lack of access to health care than people who reside in urban areas. Experts have said that people who are living in rural areas are identified with more underlying health issues as well. A handful of people living in rural counties have medical insurance. Over the last century, people have been moving from rural areas to big cities but still, around 60 million people reside in rural areas of the US. It constitutes around a fifth of the US population. Many health experts have said that if low vaccine coverage in rural areas remains like this, it will surely derail the country’s effort to put an end to the COVID19 pandemic. The report has clearly said that as people from rural areas are at a higher risk of severe COVID19 disease and death, the disparity between the vaccine coverage in urban and rural areas of the country might have a negative impact on efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
The officials from the CDC have said that public health leaders need to join forces with doctors and health influencers in rural areas to address the issue of vaccine hesitancy and equal vaccine access. It will motivate people to take the COVID19 vaccine. The CDC director Rochelle Walensky has said that the agency is committed to reaching out to every corner of the US and will work towards bridging these gaps. Walensky has said that crucial to make efforts to make vaccine coverage equal regardless of where people live in rural areas or urban areas. She has said that the government’s vaccination and testing effort in association with the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama National Guard at Talladega Superspeedway is the latest example of such efforts. The senior advisor from the White House COVID19 Response Team, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith has said that such efforts are known to make a difference. Around 51 percent of people from black and other ethnic groups have been vaccinated in the past two weeks in the US. These communities account for 40 percent of the general population of the US. The Biden government has been pushing through to get more federal vaccination sites online that are run by Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and to make vaccines available in the community health centers of the federal government. With this effort, many people of color have been able to get the COVID19 vaccine.