Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Between Urban and Rural Counties - United States, December 14, 2020-April 10, 2021.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021 May 21; 70(20):759-764.MM
Approximately 60 million persons in the United States live in rural counties, representing almost one fifth (19.3%) of the population.* In September 2020, COVID-19 incidence (cases per 100,000 population) in rural counties surpassed that in urban counties (1). Rural communities often have a higher proportion of residents who lack health insurance, live with comorbidities or disabilities, are aged ≥65 years, and have limited access to health care facilities with intensive care capabilities, which places these residents at increased risk for COVID-19-associated morbidity and mortality (2,3). To better understand COVID-19 vaccination disparities across the urban-rural continuum, CDC analyzed county-level vaccine administration data among adults aged ≥18 years who received their first dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or a single dose of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) during December 14, 2020-April 10, 2021 in 50 U.S. jurisdictions (49 states and the District of Columbia [DC]). Adult COVID-19 vaccination coverage was lower in rural counties (38.9%) than in urban counties (45.7%) overall and among adults aged 18-64 years (29.1% rural, 37.7% urban), those aged ≥65 years (67.6% rural, 76.1% urban), women (41.7% rural, 48.4% urban), and men (35.3% rural, 41.9% urban). Vaccination coverage varied among jurisdictions: 36 jurisdictions had higher coverage in urban counties, five had higher coverage in rural counties, and five had similar coverage (i.e., within 1%) in urban and rural counties; in four jurisdictions with no rural counties, the urban-rural comparison could not be assessed. A larger proportion of persons in the most rural counties (14.6%) traveled for vaccination to nonadjacent counties (i.e., farther from their county of residence) compared with persons in the most urban counties (10.3%). As availability of COVID-19 vaccines expands, public health practitioners should continue collaborating with health care providers, pharmacies, employers, faith leaders, and other community partners to identify and address barriers to COVID-19 vaccination in rural areas (2).