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Household, education levels, insurance factor in vaccine rate, says study


By Jeniffer Solis, Nevada Current
This story was originally published by Nevada Current.

Nationwide, people of color have been contracting and dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than white people throughout the pandemic. As the country enters its fifth month of the vaccine rollout, data shows racial disparities in vaccinations are an issue.

New research from GoodRX suggests other patterns of inequity: among single-parent households, education levels, insurance status and households without internet access.

Lower-income communities lag in vaccination, according to federal data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Adults with household incomes below $50,000 continued to have vaccination rates below the national average, whereas adults with household incomes above $50,000 had vaccination rates higher than the national average.

Households with incomes of $100,000 or higher had vaccination rates nearly twice those of adults with incomes less than $25,000 in the first half of March.

States with higher median household income tended to have higher vaccination rates overall, according to the GoodRX analysis.  

A Reno Fire Department employee administers a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a Mobile Consulate event April 24, 2021 at Evelyn Mount Community Center in Reno, Nev. Image: Ty O’Neil / This Is Reno

For instance, in Nevada, where the median household income hovers around $60,365, only about 43 percent of the total population has been fully vaccinated. In contrast, the median household income in Maryland, Connecticut and New Jersey is above $70,000, and vaccine rates are high. 

Research by GoodRX indicated further disparities for those without access to reliable Internet, the support of a partner, or the privilege of affording higher education.

“Many focus on vaccine hesitancy, and the political factors behind hesitancy, but we should also pay attention to the privilege of accessing a vaccine,” writes Tori Marsh, a GoodRX researcher on drug pricing.

States with a higher proportion of single-parent households have lower rates of vaccinations including Nevada, according to GoodRX.

“From having someone to aid in childcare, to the complexities of balancing a family and employment on top of other difficulties in life, raising a child as a single-parent can make life more challenging. And these challenges can extend into finding time to enroll in a vaccine slot, or wait in line at a mass vaccination site,” writes Marsh.

States have relied on internet access to schedule appointments and direct patients to vaccination centers. GoodRX found that states with a larger proportion of households without Internet access have lower rates of vaccinations. In Nevada about 16 percent of the population does not have access to reliable internet.

Disparities by level of education also exist. Adults holding a bachelor’s degree or higher have the highest vaccination rate — 45 percent nationally. Adults without a high school diploma have the lowest vaccination rates at nearly 19 percent, according to Census data.

States with a higher proportion of residents with a bachelor’s degree generally have higher rates of vaccinations, according to research by GoodRX. Vaccination rates in Massachusetts are one of the highest in the nation at 57 percent and about 24 percent of residents have a Bachelor’s degree. Nevada, by contrast, has an overall vaccination rate of 43 percent and about 16 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree.

Nevada has one of the highest uninsured rates in the country: 11 percent of residents lack insurance. Having medical insurance is an important factor in the state’s lower vaccination rates, according to GoodRX. Conversely, in Massachusetts about 3 percent of households are uninsured — the lowest in the nation — while vaccine rates remain at a high 57 percent.

“While residents without insurance have access to the COVID-19 vaccine, a lack of insurance status is a barrier that is linked to reduced preventative care in general,” writes Marsh.

Data on vaccination rates for the study used the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker. State-level percentages for single-family households, people with a bachelor’s degree, households without Internet, and uninsured rates used by the study were gathered from the American Community Survey 2019 five-year estimates.

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