COVID-19 vaccinations in rural areas hit fastest pace in 6 weeks: report

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Nearly 300,000 Americans in rural areas completed a COVID-19 vaccination series last week, translating to the largest weekly gain since mid-July, per data published by the nonprofit Center for Rural Strategies.

While rural counties logged about 150,000 weekly vaccinations by late July, the figure has since climbed to 292,898, according to the report. Also, the weekly number of residents in rural areas rolling their sleeves to receive a first dose increased by over two-thirds in the last three weeks, and 39 of 47 states with rural counties saw an uptick in initial shots administered last week compared to two weeks prior. (Delaware, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have no nonmetropolitan counties. Rural is defined as nonmetropolitan, according to the Office of Management and Budget MSA system.)

Healthcare worker and new employee Amber Blunk, right, signs up for her first COVID-19 vaccination at Nashville General Hospital Nashville Tenn. on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021. 
((AP Photo/John Partipilo))

States with low vaccination rates appear to be gaining pace: Missouri was tied with the largest uptick in new vaccinations at 88% last week with almost 19,000 shots versus fewer than 10,000 two weeks ago. Alabama and Oklahoma were also among states with significant increases in new inoculations over the last week.

States with above-average vaccination rates are picking up vaccination rates too, according to the report which cites New Mexico and Hawaii, each with weekly vaccination rates climbing to 75% and 66%, respectively.

A woman is injected with her second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a Dallas County Health and Human Services vaccination site in Dallas, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. 

A reported 38.3% of the rural population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, versus 49.1% in metropolitan areas, the nonprofit wrote. Massachusetts maintains the highest statewide rural vaccination rate at 69.4%, followed by Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine and New Hampshire. States with the lowest rural vaccination rates include Georgia, Virginia and West Virginia, per data sourced back to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

White House COVID-⁠19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients on Tuesday also spoke to the increasing vaccination pace, citing an 80% increase since mid-July in the average number of daily vaccinations, climbing from about 500,000 to 900,000. Last week, the country logged over 6 million vaccinations, translating to the largest weekly total since July 5, Zients said.

The nationwide pace of first vaccinations has also accelerated, with over 14 million shots administered in August, or nearly 4 million more initial shots since July.

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