New research shows that New England states lead the way in vaccination rates, while Georgia, Mississippi sit at the bottom of the list.
WASHINGTON — As scientists move closer and closer to a vaccine for COVID-19, the next big issue may be getting everyone to take it. In the United States, a new survey finds some areas have a better track record than others when it comes to vaccinations. Researchers reveal many states with poor flu and childhood vaccination rates also have one other thing in common, they’re coronavirus hot spots this year.
A WalletHub study of 18 key health categories rates Massachusetts as the best state in terms of vaccinating the public. “The Bay State” ranks first in the nation for child and teenager immunization rates. The state also ranks second for “Immunization Uptake Disparities & Influencing Factors,” a score that looks at several things including the increase in vaccinations between 2012 to 2017, the number of residents with health insurance, and number of people saying they’ll be getting a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available.
That healthy mentality is actually seen across the entire New England region. Aside from Massachusetts, the other five New England states (Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, and Connecticut) all rank in the top 13 states for vaccination rates. WalletHub analysts find Vermont, finishing second overall, is the top state for adult and elderly vaccination rate.
The East Coast isn’t the only place where people make sure they’re vaccinated. Other states finishing in the top 10 include North Dakota (4th), Washington (7th), Iowa (8th), Nebraska (9th), and Oregon (10th).
Vaccination trouble spots
The study examines how people in all 50 states and the District of Columbia defend against all sorts of illnesses like influenza, tetanus, shingles, and childhood diseases through the use of vaccines.
Finishing at the bottom of this year’s list is Mississippi. “The Magnolia State” ranks last for childhood and adult vaccination rates and last in “Immunization Uptake Disparities & Influencing Factors.” Mississippi is also at or near the bottom for childhood flu shots, HPV, meningitis, tetanus, and shingles vaccination rates.
Highly populated states have their issues too. WalletHub finds California has the lowest share of children between 19 and 35 months-old living in poverty who have their combined 7-vaccine series. These vaccinations cover a variety of serious illnesses including polio and the measles. Only 50 percent of children in poverty have these inoculations in California.
When it comes to health insurance, Texas has the highest percentage of citizens living without a coverage plan. Alaska, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Florida round out the bottom five in terms of insurance.
What does this mean during a pandemic?
Several of the states finishing in the bottom half of WalletHub’s study also happen to be areas hit hard by COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia (50th in the study), New Jersey (49th), Texas (48th), Arizona (42nd), Florida (41st), and New York (37th) are all among the states with the highest number of cases of coronavirus.
While the study does not draw any conclusions about these areas, it notes the importance of having the entire country buy in to getting vaccinated.
“Unfortunately, even if we develop an effective vaccine to combat the pandemic, it will have a reduced impact if people don’t choose to get it. According to Gallup, 35 percent of Americans would not get a COVID-19 vaccine, even if it were free,” writes WalletHub’s Adam McCann.
States that Vaccinate Most:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
States that Vaccinate Least:
44. South Carolina
49. New Jersey