by Aimee Lee ’24
Published Oct. 16th, 2021
In Wyoming, anti-vaccination beliefs are explicit through signs and symbols dotted across towns. Bold, black uppercase letters preach “anti-vax” statements on store windows. According to US News, Wyoming also holds the highest vaccine hesitancy rate in the United States with 25.6% of its residents refusing vaccination. In contrast, Mayo Clinic reports that hundreds of miles east in Vermont, about 70% of Vermonters reside fully vaccinated, the highest vaccination rate in the country.
Division surrounding the COVID-19 vaccination is clear and is spreading greatly across America, threatening the unity and safety of the nation.
Population density is one influential factor in vaccination status. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) weekly report, rural America has a much lower vaccination rate than crowded, urban locations. The CDC also reported that states such as Montana, Alaska, and Idaho, where communities are spread thin, have vaccination rates below the national average.
In less densely populated communities, residents argue that the lack of interaction with a larger population lessens the need for vaccination. According to Mayo Clinic, high population states such as New Jersey and Massachusetts continue to lead the nation in some of the highest vaccination rates.
Race and age also play a role in the argument between vaccine hesitant and supportive Americans. According to the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation Issue Brief of May 2021, hesitancy was largest seen in white and black Americans, aged 25-39. As age increased, the percentage of fully vaccinated people dramatically increased.
As Americans continue to add tension to vaccine controversy, many communities lack the time and money to add to the conversation. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), overwhelming numbers of COVID-19 related hospitalizations, especially in vaccine hesitant areas, undermine the sustainability of quality treatment and safety in hospitals. The FDA also reported shortages of ventilators since the COVID-19 summer and fall surge. Throughout the pandemic, ICU beds, monitors, and hospital space have constantly been in jeopardy due to sudden surges of COVID-19 patients.
Vaccine-related hate crimes also increased during the pandemic, targeted at specific groups, especially Asian Americans. According to the California Department of Justice, anti-Asian crime in California increased 125 percent from 2019 to 2020.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4.5 million Americans have died from COVID-19. What matters most now is preventing any more from harm, regardless of the differing opinions people have on the vaccine.