Vaccine Rollout Was Weaker In Greater Black Populations And Rural Areas, Study Finds

2 min
July 28, 2022

By Brian Bushard

July 28, 2022

Healthcare facilities in U.S. counties with higher Black populations were 32% less likely to offer Covid-19 vaccines than areas with smaller than average Black populations, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal PLOS Medicine, as health experts continue to emphasize the need for equal access to vaccines as key to curbing the pandemic.

71.8% of eligible pharmacies and 55.5% of all healthcare facilities offered Covid-19 vaccines in counties where the Black population is greater than 42%, compared to 76.3% of pharmacies and 60.5% of healthcare facilities in counties where the Black population is less than 12.5%, according to the study.

Just over half of healthcare facilities in rural counties administered the vaccine (51.1%), one of the lowest rates, below the 62.7% that offered vaccines in suburban areas and 64.4% in urban areas, according to the study, which analyzed data from more than 50,000 pharmacies across nearly 3,000 U.S. counties in May, 2021.

Median income also played a deciding role in vaccine availability, with 71.8% of pharmacies and 45.5% of all healthcare facilities in the bottom tier of median income areas serving as vaccine administration sites, significantly lower than the 76% of pharmacies and 61.4% of healthcare facilities overall that served as vaccine sites.

Rural countries with above-average Hispanic populations were 26% less likely to serve as vaccine administration facility compared to counties compared to counties with smaller than-average Hispanic populations, while more healthcare facilities overall in counties with Hispanic populations below 18.5% offered vaccines (62.2%) than in counties where the Hispanic population was more than 38.7% (56.4%).

People in counties with higher Covid-19-related mortality rates had fewer options at healthcare facilities (54.6%) and pharmacies (71.4%).


Sean Dickson
Director, Health Policy