Rural vs. Urban vaccinations

Just because that’s the kind of person I am, every couple of days I’ve been checking the Walgreen’s vaccination website to see where shots were available.  Probably about 8 times out of 10 there were not shots within an hour of NC’s largest metro areas (Raleigh and Charlotte) and plenty of appointments once you were willing to drive an hour or more into rural America.  About 1 in 10 times, there were actually shots in my area.  And the other times?  Shots nowhere.  Somehow, though, I was really late to the game in discovering vaccine spotter, which actually gives you maps like this:

And when I went for the screenshot last night, NC was not working, so I went with Texas.  As you can, see, same story I saw when checking NC and VA– major population centers pretty much completely lacking available vaccination appointments with plenty of appointments in rural areas and small towns. 

I haven’t read anything about this, but it really bothers me.  I know lots of upper-SES friends and colleagues who have driven an hour away to get a shot, but the real victims here are the urban poor who may not be able to easily up and drive an hour each way for a vaccination.  I was complaining about this to a friend today who managed to get a local shot and she said, “I’m not going to take a shot from a rural person.”  I said, “no, they’re taking them from us!”  Not literally, obviously, but this is absolutely a pretty substantial maldistribution of our vaccination resources. 

Maybe it’s the greater vaccine hesitancy in rural areas?  Maybe there’s actually more Walgreen’s and Walmart’s per capita to give shots?  But, whatever it is, the system should absolutely be working more equitably.   


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Rural vs. Urban vaccinations

  1. Andrew Oh-Willeke says:

    I would put my money on the percentage of the population feeling that getting a vaccine is desirable (demonstrated in surveys) which has a large partisan divide that maps the urban-rural divide, and a more per capita oriented vaccine distribution policy.

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