These 2 States With the Lowest Vaccination Rates Are Seeing Cases Spike
These states have the fewest residents vaccinated, and their COVID cases numbers are increasing.
Since the start of 2021, the number of vaccines administered in the U.S. has gone up, and COVID cases have come down. As of May 17, there are nearly 124 million fully vaccinated individuals in the country, per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), meaning more than 37 percent of the U.S. is fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, daily COVID case numbers are the lowest they've been in the U.S. since June 2020, the White House reports. Though the trends nationwide are looking great, unfortunately, these numbers don't translate to every state when examining vaccination rates and COVID cases on a more local level. Looking more closely, there seems to be a correlation between low vaccination rates and rising coronavirus case numbers. In fact, the two states with the lowest vaccination rates in the country also saw the biggest COVID case increases this past week. Read on to find out which two states are struggling to keep up.
Alabama just had the largest spike in COVID cases last week, and it also has the second lowest vaccination rate nationwide.
Out of all 50 states, Alabama just experienced the biggest surge in COVID cases with a 115 percent increase in daily cases over the last seven days, according to data from The Washington Post. At the same time, the state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country: about 27.6 percent of Alabamans are fully vaccinated as of May 18, per CDC data compiled by Becker's Hospital Review. (By comparison, the state with the most residents vaccinated is Connecticut at 48.7 percent.)
Officials say supply is not the issue in Alabama—it's demand. WBRC, a local Fox News affiliate in the state, just reported on May 17 that Alabama has nearly 1.3 million doses of the COVID vaccine waiting to be used.
"We have vaccine on every corner right now in the state of Alabama. It's just a matter of people coming out, taking the opportunity to protect themselves against this deadly virus," Karen Landers, MD, deputy health officer with the Alabama Department of Public Health, told WBRC.
Mississippi has the lowest vaccination rate in the U.S. and saw the second largest spike in COVID cases last week.
Last week, Mississippi saw the second largest spike in COVID cases in the country, behind Alabama. According to data from The Washington Post, over the last seven days, Mississippi has experienced a 27 percent increase in daily cases. The state has also vaccinated the lowest percentage of its population out of all 50 states. According to the data compiled by Becker's Hospital Review, just 25.8 percent of Mississippi residents are fully vaccinated.
Vaccine hesitancy is incredibly rampant in the Magnolia State. A Morning Consult poll revealed that Mississippi has the highest share of vaccine hesitant residents in the country with about 34 percent of Mississippians unwilling to get the COVID vaccine.
President Biden recently warned about "flare-ups" in states where vaccination rates are low.
The correlation between states with low vaccination rates and COVID spikes is something medical experts and U.S. officials have been concerned about. On May 17, President Joe Biden warned about the possibility for COVID "flare-ups" in states with low vaccination rates. "We know there will be advances and setbacks, and we know that there are many flare-ups that could occur," Biden said during a White House press conference addressing the nation's progress in the fight against COVID. "But if the unvaccinated get vaccinated, they will protect themselves and other unvaccinated people around them."
The CDC director says these states should consider keeping mask mandates.
On May 13, the CDC announced one of its biggest guideline changes yet by saying that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks indoor or outdoors under most circumstances. The change has prompted almost every state with mask mandates still in place to lift them in some capacity, or at least, announce an upcoming date when they will be officially lifted (save for New Jersey).
However, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, says while lifting mask mandates is safe for fully vaccinated people in most situations, it's not necessarily the right course of action for all states. "I want to make sure everybody understands … we're not a homogeneous country," Walensky told Fox News's Chris Wallace during a May 16 interview. "There are some places that have more disease than others and less vaccination rates than others, and what I would say is in those communities, they should still be looking within those communities before removing mask policies."