Nearly 59% of residents in rural counties had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine between Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. 31, 2022, compared with more than 75% of individuals living in urban counties, according to an analysis published Thursday in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The findings indicate the urban-rural gap in vaccination coverage has widened more than twofold, as a previous study that examined vaccinations among adults 18 and older from Dec. 14, 2020, through April, 10, 2021, found a 6.8 percentage-point difference in coverage estimates between urban and rural residents. The urban-rural disparity increased to 16.9 points in the new study, which encompassed people ages 5 and older. The CDC in November endorsed use of a COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11.

“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 United States,” researchers noted. “Public health practitioners could focus on collaborating with health care providers, pharmacies, schools, community-based organizations, faith leaders, and local employers to improve vaccine confidence, ensure equitable vaccine access, and encourage staying up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccinations in rural communities.”

Read More