COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy rates remain high in some states -- especially in Wyoming, just one state where cases are spiking due to the delta variant, according to new data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The latest batch of data from the bureau's Household Pulse Survey -- which collects statistics on how people's lives have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic -- shows that hesitancy nationwide continues to decline, from 21.6% between Jan. 6-18 to 10.8% between June 23 and July 5. But rates remain high in certain states, with the most hesitant populations being in Wyoming (25.6%), West Virginia (22.4%), North Dakota (22.2%) and Alaska (20.5%).
The hesitancy that remains in parts of the country is alarming as COVID-19 cases spike in a majority of states. States seeing some of the highest increases in cases include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada and Tennessee, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In some of those states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee -- vaccine hesitancy rates are higher than 15%, according to the Census Bureau.
Wyoming, with the highest hesitancy rate in the nation, also has one of the lowest vaccination rates coupled with one of the highest new case rates, according to reporting by Kaiser Health News. The most common reasons for hesitancy nationwide are concerns about side effects (50.6%) and a lack of trust in COVID-19 vaccines (47.6%), according to the Census Bureau.
"Simply put, in areas of low vaccination coverage, cases and hospitalizations are up," said Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during a July 8 news conference.
The news is not all bad. Nearly 81% of U.S. adults aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the bureau's most recent data. A strong majority of states have reached the widely held benchmark of 70%, the bureau reports.
Many states -- especially along the East Coast and in the West -- have vaccine hesitancy rates below the national average. Hesitancy rates are also lowest for the age ranges most at risk for COVID-19 -- 8.1% for people aged 55-64 and 4.5% for people aged 65 and older.
The Census Bureau has noted that because its Household Pulse Survey is experimental and "designed to be a short-turnaround instrument that provides valuable data to aid in the pandemic recovery," some data might not meet the bureau's statistical quality standards.
Elliott Davis is a reporter mainly serving the Government Rankings team at U.S. News & World Report. He joined the company in early 2020 as an intern in the News section. He previously wrote for The Boston Globe Magazine, The Baltimore Sun, the University of Maryland's Capital News Service and his hometown newspaper, the Virgin Islands Daily News. He is a graduate of the master's program at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn or email him at email@example.com.