Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

There's A Stark Red-Blue Divide When It Comes To States' Vaccination Rates


Less than a month remains until the Fourth of July, which was President Biden's goal for 70% of American adults to have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

It looks like it's going to be a stretch to get there.

As of Tuesday, nearly 64% of U.S. adults have had at least one shot, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The key issue is that demand has dropped off. After an initial crush, the number of doses being administered daily is on a steep decline from the early April peak.

So what's going on? A few things to note:

  • There's a huge political divide. Speaking over the weekend, former President Donald Trump took credit for the vaccine rollout and told a North Carolina crowd of supporters that "most of you" have likely been vaccinated. 
  • But surveys have shown Trump supporters are the least likely to say they have been vaccinated or plan to be. Remember, Trump got vaccinated before leaving the White House, but that was reported months later. Unlike other public officials who were trying to encourage people to get the shot, Trump did it in private.
  • The top 22 states (including D.C.) with the highest adult vaccination rates all went to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. 
  • Some of the least vaccinated states are the most pro-Trump. Trump won 17 of the 18 states with the lowest adult vaccination rates. Many of these states have high proportions of whites without college degrees.
  • But it's not just about politics:

  • Black Americans, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic, aren't getting the vaccine at the rate of whites. Less than a quarter of Black Americans had gotten at lease one vaccine dose as of Tuesday, according to the CDC. It's the lowest of any racial or ethnic group listed.
  • Black Americans also make up a significant percentage of the population in places like Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina and Georgia. Those are seven of the 10 states with the lowest adult vaccination rates, though the gathering of data by race and ethnicity has been spotty depending on the state.
  • Young people, who also lean heavily toward Democrats, are also less likely to get vaccinated. More than 80% of people over 65 have gotten at least one shot, compared with just 45% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 51% of those 25 to 39.
  • And it's not necessarily about hesitancy. The May NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found 75% of Black adults said they had gotten a shot or would get it when one came available. That was about the same as white adults, but Black adults trailed whites when it came to those who said they'd actually received one.
  • Equitable distribution of the vaccines has been a focus of the Biden White House, and they can't be happy with the lag.
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

    Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.