Vaccination rates are lower in rural counties in the United States than in urban ones, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Tuesday.
The study found that as of April 10, about 39 percent of adults in rural counties had received at least one shot, compared to 46 percent in urban counties. The disparity persisted across age and gender.
The results highlight the need to get vaccines to people in harder-to-reach areas, a focus of the Biden administration in its new phase of the vaccination campaign, now that the most eager people have already received their shots.
The White House announced earlier this month that it would start sending vaccine doses directly to rural health clinics, and has been working with organizations like NASCAR.
The CDC study noted that a higher percentage of people in rural areas had to travel to counties that are not adjacent to where they live to get the vaccine, which "might be related to challenges with vaccine access and the dearth of pharmacies in some rural areas."
The study also noted that "vaccine hesitancy in rural areas is a major barrier that public health practitioners, health care providers, and local partners need to address to achieve vaccination equity."
There is also a political dimension, though it was not addressed in the CDC study. The top states for vaccination rates all voted Democratic in the most recent presidential election, whereas red states are largely toward the bottom in vaccination rates.
A focus on local doctors could help convince people to get vaccinated.
"Notably, 86% of rural residents report they trust their own health care providers for information on COVID-19 vaccines, which highlights the importance of public health practitioners working with established outpatient health care systems in rural areas," the CDC study states.