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The COVID-19 vaccine has become a red vs blue issue in the U.S., and it’s very telling

One of the biggest challenges in dealing with coronavirus in the United States is getting more people vaccinated.

Messenger RNA Covid vaccines 66% effective against Delta: US study
Image: © AFP/File
Image: © AFP/File

One of the biggest challenges in dealing with coronavirus in the United States is getting more people vaccinated. Scientists believe that 70 percent or so of a population needs to be immunized in order to achieve herd immunity.

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently reported that roughly 78 percent of American adults said they had been at least partially vaccinated as of Oct. 5, 2021. And that is good news, but it is not 70 percent fully vaccinated.

Another bit of good news on the vaccine front is that there is a great deal less racial disparity when it comes to taking the vaccine.

“As of October 5, 2021, White people accounted for the largest share (60%) of people who are unvaccinated, Black and Hispanic people remain less likely than their White counterparts to have received a vaccine, leaving them at increased risk, particularly as the variant spreads,” the foundation wrote. “However, the data show that these disparities are narrowing over time, particularly for Hispanic people.”

But the foundation also reported that while the gap was tightening up between racial groups – it was actually widening among political groups.

The vaccine has become emersed in politics

Dr. Alfred Sommer, an epidemiologist and dean emeritus at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Salon he has noticed – based strictly on his personal observations – that those who refuse to get vaccinated seem to fall into one of two broad categories.

Like the Kaiser Family Foundation report, Dr. Sommer also noticed that marginalized groups, like Black and Hispanic people, “for lots of reasons are suspicious of the vaccine, but all are educable if one really takes the time and effort to work with their communities.”

The second group of vaccine-resistant is those that are politically motivated and tend to be white and to support former president Donald Trump, who himself is vaccinated.

All this goes along with an analysis by David Leonhardt in the New York Times that has the provocative headline “US COVID Deaths Get Even Redder.” And the analysis also has the key stats he cites to illustrate the point:

“In October, 25 out of every 100,000 residents of heavily Trump counties died from COVID, more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties (7.8 per 100,000). October was the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap between the death rates in Trump counties and Biden counties widened.”

Leonhardt also believes that weather, time of year, or even regional differences have not played a significant part in the disparities between political groups. He points out that this issue didn’t come along until after the vaccines had been rolled out.

“Almost 40 percent of Republican adults remain unvaccinated, compared with about 10 percent of Democratic adults.” However, Leonhardt adds that the partisan gap may start shrinking again, in part because of new antiviral treatments that, in tandem with the vaccines, could turn COVID into a “manageable virus” all over.

Leonhardt also notes that another issue in play is that red America may have built up more “natural immunity” by now because opposition to vaccine and mask mandates generally caused more cases in those areas.

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Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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