For much of late 2020 and early 2021, millions of Americans waited anxiously for news about coronavirus vaccines being developed and wondered when they’d be able to take them.
Now, many of those people who wanted vaccinations have either gotten them recently or just become eligible as the Biden administration ramps up vaccine availability for U.S. citizens. This is great news, and yet it’s also a great challenge: American vaccine supply may already be catching up to demand with herd immunity still far away.
States vary widely in the percentages of their residents that they’ve vaccinated to date. New Hampshire leads the nation at 89.8%, while Alabama ranks last with 61.4% of its doses administered.
Yet current trends, especially those in the Old South, show a sharp dropoff in demand. As Surgo Ventures noted on Friday, "the supply-demand shift for the vaccine will happen earlier than expected — as early as the end of April — and before the nation reaches the 70-90% threshold for achieving herd immunity."
Not surprisingly, traditionally-Red States across the county’s Sun Belt are moving the slowest toward vaccinating residents. Whether the cause is a low demand for shots, slow public health systems, or a combination of both, the Southern-most states are also home to the greatest amount of distrust towards doctors and disbelief in the vaccines.
According to the Surgo Ventures study, all of America’s vaccine supporters will likely have taken their shots by the end of April, and the percentage of vaccinated Americans will likely reach 52% by July. Even adding in people who have been infected with COVID, recovered and developed antibodies will only bring the total immunity rate to 65% at that time — still below the threshold for herd immunity.
“This analysis shows that despite the general vaccine enthusiasm we are seeing now in the United States, things are going to get really difficult really soon,” said Sema Sgaier, Surgo's CEO.
A separate study released by KFF on Friday shows that the remaining rural Americans who have not yet been vaccinated are likely the most resistant to receiving it. (via Axios):
- 39% have already gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, 16% say they'll get it as soon as possible, and 15% said they want to "wait and see.”
- Another 9% said they'll only get vaccinated if required, and 21% said they definitely won't. In suburban areas, a combined 21% said they were vaccine resistant, and only a combined 16% of urban residents said the same.
The study also showed that of the 21% of respondents who said they “definitely won’t” get vaccinated, almost 75% were Republicans or leaning that way, and 41% were white Evangelical Christians.