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Vaccination Rate Gap Widens Among Urban and Rural Oklahoma Counties

Urban Oklahomans are getting COVID-19 vaccines at a much higher rate than their rural counterparts. Data show the vaccination gap is widening.

According to data from the Oklahoma State University Center for Rural Health, vaccination rates mirrored each other through March. At the end of that month, both were at 17% fully vaccinated. Those rates began diverging in April. As of Tuesday, 39% of urban Oklahoma is fully vaccinated. Rural is at 30%.

There are likely many factors at play, but one could be vaccine hesitancy in rural areas. The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation released national data on hesitancy.

As of mid-June, Oklahoma’s share of hesitant residents skewed rural. The county with the highest hesitancy rate was Woodward County, with nearly half of respondents saying they probably or definitely won’t get vaccinated. Counties along the state’s southeastern border were also highly hesitant.

Catherine Sweeney grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and attended Oklahoma State University. She has covered local, state and federal government for outlets in Oklahoma, Colorado and Washington, D.C.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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