Story at a glance:

  • With the exemption of Georgia, the states with the smallest percentage of vaccinated residents are red.
  • Thirty percent of rural residents say they would "definitely not" get vaccinated.
  • The virus could flourish and mutate in areas where less people are vaccinated or immunized, experts say.

Ten states have less than half their adult residents vaccinated, and these states also have higher coronavirus cases.

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming are averaging more than 78 new cases per 100,000 people, according to CNN.


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The Biden administration has set a goal for states to vaccinate at least 70 percent of their adults with at least one shot by July 4. Seven states have achieved this: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont. 

In the 10 states with less than half of their adult residents vaccinated, the average per capita case rate is about 19 percent higher than the seven states that have reached the Biden administration’s vaccination goals, CNN reports.  

The states, all of which are red except for Georgia, are also comprised of rural areas, which tend to see uneven vaccination rates. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey in April found that 3 in 10 rural residents said they would "definitely not" get vaccinated. The respondents said they would only get a vaccine if it were required.

In an interview on Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Rochelle Walensky, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that unvaccinated people have to be “honest with themselves,” saying those who are not vaccinated are not protecting themselves.  

"You're protected if you're vaccinated, you're not if you're not vaccinated," Walensky said in response to some mask restrictions being lifted and people being unmasked.

Experts say one of the biggest worries is that areas with high rates of unvaccinated people could lead opportunities for the virus to flourish.

"Clearly if you have geographic areas that are under-immunized, the virus is going to find them. It will continue to smolder, will continue to make people sick, will continue to send people to the hospital, and will continue to cause deaths," William Schaffner, member of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, told CNN.  

If the virus flourishes in unvaccinated areas, it could possibly develop into a more deadly virus.

"Every time this virus finds a new person, it multiplies. Every time it multiplies, it creates mutations that can spring off, and those mutations can create a variant that is so different that our current vaccine protection might not work or might not work as well," Schaffner said.


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Published on May 20, 2021