February 10, 2022

Vaccination rates and new COVID-19 infections by US county

Editor's Note

This study led by researchers at the University of Cincinnati, finds that areas with low vaccination rates experienced a more intense surge of new cases during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily driven by the Delta variant.

In the analysis, COVID-19 infections per 100,000 people during July 1-15, 2021, and during August 16-31, 2021:

  • increased from 190 to 1,272 in areas with vaccination rates lower than 30%
  • increased from 71 to 531 in areas with vaccination rates higher than 50%.

Overall, there were 2.4 more new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 in areas with low vs high vaccination rates during the August 16-31 time period.

Rural counties accounted for 369 of 449 (82.2%) areas with low vaccination rates and for 131 of 376 (34.8%) counties with high vaccination rates.

The findings suggest that successful containment of the epidemic may be achieved if vaccination rates are increased in rural areas. These areas have been characterized by vaccination hesitancy, limited vaccine availability, and hospital staff shortages.


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