Is Access to Vaccinations Equal?

Background

Getting America vaccinated has been one of the countries highest priorities in the last year. We can see vaccinations are still taking place but have slowed compared to earlier in the pandemic. What we have not analyzed is the access to vaccines. If you’ve read the news or been on Facebook you’ve seen how the country has divided along party lines with regards to blame for being unvaccinated (even though we’ve debunked this here). Today we review and quantify what access to vaccines looks like by party lines.

Data & Methodology

The CDC provides the public with access to their vaccine finder here at vaccines.gov. We downloaded the data for every location and analyzed it. We used the 2020 presidential election results to place every county in the U.S. into the Democrat category or Republican category. We then took every location from the CDC’s site and assigned it to the county it resides in, which in turn allowed us to assign that location a party. We then took this data and married it to census data for population counts so we could make per million comparisons, and county square miles, to calculate average coverage and distance needed to travel to receive a vaccination.

The Results

We first asked the most obvious question. Which party has the most locations available? We found the Republican counties have more locations available, 140 compared to 120 per million people.

However, we found that locations in Republican counties were different in two ways. First, the number that did not accept insurance was nearly 3x the number of Democratic locations that didn’t accept insurance.

Second, we also found that walk-ins were twice as likely not to be available in Republican vaccination sites compared with Democratic counterparts.

One bright spot for Republican vaccination sites is that they did tend to carry slightly more stock. In the chart below a 1 equates to having a 24-hour supply. This means Republican sites did tend to have more stock or more Republican sites did tend to have stock. Though, on average, Democrat or Republican sites tended to have less than one day’s worth.

Finally, we reviewed the average coverage area that each site might be responsible for. From this, we can assume a relative driving distance. We found that, on average, and as the crow flies, residents of Democrat won counties would need to travel 6 miles, while residents in Republican counties would need to travel nearly 10 miles.

Findings

We found that residents of Republican counties, on average, needed to travel farther, had less walk-in availability, and less insurance coverage at locations for vaccinations. These same residents did tend to have more locations available and tended to have slightly more stock available. We can also state that having more locations available does not offset the lack of walk-ins or insurance coverage. Once this is accounted for we find that residents in Democratic counties have more access to vaccines.