Disparities in county-level vaccinations across the United States have widened along socio-economic lines as the rollout of vaccines in the country has widened, according to the leading public health agency.
In the first two and a half months of the country’s vaccination campaign, which began on December 14, disparities in vaccinations by so-called social vulnerability were already evident, but these trends had widened further by May 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Agency researchers analyzed data from adults living in 3,129 counties, representing 99% of the U.S. population, using its Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) – a gauge comprising 15 social and structural factors associated with problems with health – and categorizing areas by level of urban development.
By the time vaccine eligibility was opened to all U.S. adults on May 1, the proportion of adults living in the least vulnerable quartile of counties who had been vaccinated was 59.3%, compared with 49% in the most vulnerable quartile. counties, the researchers wrote.
For large central metropolitan areas, immunization coverage in the least vulnerable quartile of counties was 11% higher than that of the most vulnerable counties, but this gap fell to 16.7% when examining the counties located in the outskirts of the suburbs of large cities. In non-metropolitan counties, the gap was 12.3%, while medium and small metropolitan areas fared best with a gap of only 8.2%.
The CDC said that the individual components of IVS related to socioeconomic status, housing and disability also highlighted factors contributing to disparities in vaccine uptake. For example, “vaccination coverage was lower among adults living in counties with per capita income below the median (42.7%) compared to those in counties at or above the median (56.7%). ) and other social determinants of poor health, including poverty and less education, especially in large metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties, ”they wrote.
The researchers said the findings “underscore the importance of timely strategies to ensure that all communities can benefit equitably from Covid-19 vaccination” and that tailoring public messages to local populations and improving the Access to vaccines were part of awareness efforts that could help increase immunizations. in highly vulnerable counties.