County Fourth in Nation for COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy, Report Says

United States by county with estimated COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. (Screen Shot/aspe.hhs.gov, Public Domain)
United States by county with estimated COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. (Screen Shot/aspe.hhs.gov, Public Domain)

Campbell County ranks fourth in the nation for percentage of population hesitant to receive a vaccination against COVID-19, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The report estimates that 32% of Campbell County residents are hesitant to receiving the vaccine and 17% are strongly hesitant.

Wyoming holds the top 16 spots for vaccine hesitancy in the April 6 report, with Carbon County the highest in the nation. It is followed by Converse, Natrona, Campbell, Crook, Goshen, Johnson, Niobrara, Platte, Washakie, Weston, Fremont, Hot Springs, Sublette, Sweetwater, and Uinta counties. The next top spots all go to counties in North Dakota.

HHS estimated hesitancy rates using the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (HPS) data in combination with the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) 1-year Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS).

Among states, Wyoming ranks number one for hesitancy with 31% of the population estimated to be hesitant to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. With those highly hesitant, only North Dakota exceeds Wyoming, with 19% of its population estimated to be strongly hesitant. Wyoming’s estimate for strongly hesitant is 17%. The third highest state for percentage of population estimated to be strongly hesitant to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is Tennessee, at 14%.

Under the study hesitancy includes individuals that would “probably not” or “definitely not” receive a COVID-19 vaccine when available. Strong hesitancy is only responses of individuals that would “definitely not” receive a COVID-19 vaccine when available. Like all surveys, it reflects the views of people at a point in time – in this case March 3-15.

United States by county with estimated COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. (Screen Shot/data.cdc.gov, Public Domain)
United States by county with estimated COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. (Screen Shot/data.cdc.gov, Public Domain)

Herd immunity

Vaccine hesitancy plays directly into herd immunity, with lower rates of vaccination making herd immunity nearly impossible. According to reporting by the journal Nature, “even with vaccination efforts in full force, the theoretical threshold for vanquishing COVID-19 looks to be out of reach.” The journal’s reporting notes that most scientists had placed the threshold for herd immunity at 60-70% of the population. This meant that at least 60-70% of the population needed immunity from either a vaccination or exposure to the virus.

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Independent data scientist, Youyang Gu, who had previously published a popular forecasting model for COVID-19 changed the name of his model from “Path to Herd Immunity” to “Path to Normality” in February. Gu noted that it was looking more unlikely that we would reach herd immunity because of vaccination hesitancy, new variants of COVID-19, and the delay in making vaccinations available to children.

Lauren Ancel Meyers, an epidemiologist and the executive director of the University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium told Nature, “The vaccine will mean that the virus will start to dissipate on its own.” However, the rise of new variants and future declines in immunity from infections means, “we may find ourselves months or a year down the road still battling the threat, and having to deal with future surges”.

United States by county identifying fully vaccinated adults as of March 30, 2021. (Screen Shot/data.cdc.gov, Public Domain)
United States by county identifying fully vaccinated adults as of March 30, 2021. (Screen Shot/data.cdc.gov, Public Domain)

Wyoming today

Wyoming has had 48,333 lab confirmed cases of COVID-19, has 406 active cases, and has had 47,318 recovered cases, according to April 14 data from the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).

Wyoming’s total deaths attributed to COVID-19 is 703 and lab-confirmed cases over the past 14 days have been 650, per the same WDH data. These numbers do not include an estimated 8,794 additional probable cases, of which 8,604 have recovered.

Campbell County has had 4,283 lab-confirmed cases, has 31 active cases, and has had 4,199 recovered cases. The county has had 60 COVID-19 deaths and 38 lab confirmed cases in the past 14 days. The county has had another 501 probable cases and 493 probable case recoveries.