Against the high stakes backdrop of further deaths and suffering from the global pandemic, the surge in distribution and availability of the COVID vaccines have provided a bright spot. Despite the hope and relief of receiving the vaccination has provided many, as a country we are still working through a somewhat unexpected challenge of vaccine distribution—now that vaccination rates have steadied, many individuals are choosing not to receive it. Our vaccination data dashboard was created with the goal of providing a holistic view of the overall vaccination rates, in the hopes we can also illuminate possible solutions to reach the goal of community immunity: estimated to be when 70-90% of the population is immune via vaccination or previous infection and recovery¹.
Visualization built from CDC data current as of June 10, 2021.
Good news first: vaccinations are now readily available in most states, territories, tribes, and other federal entities are efficiently distributing the doses they receive. Additionally, half of adults have received at least one dose. In other words, those who wish to get the vaccine more than likely are able to do so.
Now the bad news: we aren’t doing so hot when it comes to the rate of ever reaching herd immunity. In analysis we often refer to the “unknown unknowns” as the true threat. In this case, the biggest data black hole is an empathetic understanding of why individuals are hesitant or choosing not to receive the vaccine. Like many issues around social justice, there is no one “root cause” and communities should not and cannot be treated as monoliths when it comes to addressing their concerns. Even starting to collect data around these issues is a sensitive topic. Some people worry personal information might be leveraged against them. During a panel discussion at the COVID Vaccine National Forum in March, one speaker highlighted that undocumented immigrant may be wary of registering for a vaccine out of concern their medical records could be used to identify themselves or family members for deportation. Other people are interested in exercising autonomy² or are waiting to see³ if further information about vaccination efficacy or adverse long-term effects becomes available as the general public receives at least one dose . To achieve true insights, governments, medical providers, community organizations, and other groups with social influence must build trust first—a particularly tall order considering the historic reasons many groups have to distrust government advice and public health initiatives.
Potential outcome: as vaccination rates are relaxing, experts indicate reaching community immunity may be out of reach4. From a nuanced perspective, this information reflects the need to foster conversations in order to build trust in the COVID-19 vaccination.
³Kaiser Family Foundation: Reasons Vary Why People Want to “Wait and See” Before Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine.
4 NYT: Reaching ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Unlikely in the U.S., Experts Now Believe on NY Times
This analysis was conducted by Ardent’s Data Science and Analytics (DSA) Practice. The team is led by Tino Dinh, Principal. This summary was written by Katherine Kelso and Erin Pineda. The accompanying dashboards were created by Erin Pineda and Andrew Terrell.