Health and Healthcare

The State Where Almost No One Is Vaccinated For COVID-19 / iStock via Getty Images

The CDC has struggled to measure and decide who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Most recently, it includes people who have received the 2023/2024 updates from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Novavax. Dosage rules vary by age. With this as their yardstick, 33% of Americans qualify as vaccinated as of December 10, the latest period for which data are available. Arizona has a rate that is only about half of that.

Medical experts have become alarmed that a new variant has spread quickly in the US. The JN. 1 Omnicro sub-variant accounts for over 40% of cases. The WHO describes it as a “variant of interest” because it is growing rapidly. However, it does not appear to be a higher risk to health than earlier variants. Its rapid spread will affect the number of people who are ill over the holidays.

According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, not all states have the same vaccination rates. Most states with low rates are in the South. Arizona stands out as having the lowest rate at 16.1%. Texas follows it at 18.7%, Arkansas’ rate at 22%, Alabama at 22.3%, South Carolina at 22.9%, Tennessee at 24.4% and Mississippi at 25.5%.

At the far end of the spectrum, the vaccination rate in North Dakota is 58.8%, South Dakota at 58.3%, and 57.7%.

There are few mainstream theories about why vaccination rates in the South are low. Earlier in the pandemic, the reasons given were political affiliation, worries about safety, and suspicions about whether vaccines work at all. Whether those conditions persist today or not is an open question.

What is not an open question is that JN. 1 is spreading like wildfire. Americans will be in close quarters when traveling by plane and other vehicles in which they are close to one another, at crowded parties, or gathering in large numbers at home. The number of people with COVID-19 has not just risen recently. It will likely rise again late this month or early next as these events cause another surge.

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