'We've got vials and vials in our freezer': pro-Trump counties have alarmingly low vaccination rates
COVID Vaccination (AFP)

On Saturday, The New York Times published an analysis of counties across the United States, revealing a sharp correlation between rates of COVID-19 vaccination and support for former President Donald Trump.

"Using survey data collected in March, the federal government recently created new estimates of hesitancy for every county and state in the United States," reported Danielle Ivory, Lauren Leatherby, and Robert Gebeloff. "In more than 500 counties, at least a quarter of adults might not be willing to get vaccinated, according to the estimates, and a majority of these places supported Mr. Trump in the last election. In the 10 states where the government projected that residents would be least hesitant to get a Covid-19 vaccine, voters chose Mr. Biden in the 2020 election. Mr. Trump won nine of the 10 states where the most residents said they would probably or definitely not get the vaccine."

Many individual cases of vaccine refusal are running rampant in pro-Trump counties, noted the report, are stark.

"In a county in Wyoming, a local health official asked the state to stop sending first doses of the vaccine because the freezer was already stuffed to capacity with unwanted vials," said the report. "In an Iowa county, a clinic called people who had volunteered to give shots to tell them not to come in because so few residents had signed up for appointments. In a county in Pennsylvania, a hospital set up a drive-through in the park, stocked with roughly 1,000 vaccine doses. Only about 300 people showed up."

And health officials are alarmed. "I just never in a million years ever expected my field of work to become less medical and more political," said Natrona County, Wyoming health department officer Hailey Bloom, herself a registered Republican. Sweetwater County, Wyoming health officer Dr. Jean Stachon agreed, saying, "It pains me to think that the governor of Michigan is begging for vaccines, and we've got vials and vials in our freezer."

Polling has found that vaccine hesitancy is strongest among Republicans, especially Republican men.

Trump himself helped put funding into developing the vaccines and was vaccinated himself, but has historically championed anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and spent most of last year downplaying the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hostility to vaccines is now so ingrained in many pro-Trump communities that when Ivanka Trump posted a photo of herself being immunized earlier this week, her Instagram comments were filled with angry people rebuffing her call for people to get the shot.

You can read more here.