Although President Biden has said he wants 70 percent of Americans to have at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose by July 4th, as things currently stand the country is on track to miss that goal. And while most states that voted for Biden will likely meet or exceed the 70 percent mark, many states that Trump won are behind.
Seventeen of the 18 states with the lowest adult vaccination rates voted for Trump, according to an NPR analysis of CDC data. The top 22 states, including D.C., with the highest adult vaccination rates voted for Biden. And, CNN reported, the partisan gap has grown substantially in recent months. As of April 1, there was only a weak correlation between the 2020 election results and vaccination rates, but now the relationship is much stronger.
With how vehemently Republicans have been making vaccines a partisan issue, it’s not a huge surprise that vote red-voting states would be lagging. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson was recently suspended from YouTube for one week after his account added a video of the senator spreading disinformation about the virus, including touting two drugs, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, as Covid-19 treatments. YouTube explicitly lists recommending those medications as “treatment misinformation” in their Covid-19 medical misinformation policy.
Johnson has also publicly claimed he does not intend to get vaccinated, as has fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul. In mid-May, CNN reported that while 100% of Democrats in Congress said they were vaccinated, a much smaller number of Republicans — at least 44.8 percent in the House and 92 percent in the Senate — said they were. All members of Congress have had access to the vaccine for months. And although Trump did receive the vaccine in January while he was still president, he did not announce or publicize it to his supporters, so the public did not know until the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman broke the news in March.
Groups also differ in vaccination rates across demographics. Younger people are less likely to be vaccinated. And black Americans are also trailing behind, although it appears that is because some may not yet have access to the vaccine. Three out of four black adults asked in a May poll by NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist said they had either received a vaccine dose or would get one when one became available.
Despite the lagging vaccination rates, the U.S. will still get somewhat close to Biden’s 70 percent goal by July 4th, likely falling short by a few percentage points. But not having a large portion of the population vaccinated can be dangerous and can promote the spread of Covid-19. And unvaccinated people are the most at risk, especially as variants are coming from across the globe. According to preliminary data from the Cleveland Clinic, 99 percent of patients admitted to the hospital with coronavirus from January to mid-April 2021 were not fully vaccinated.