The fourth wave of the pandemic over the summer, fueled by the Delta variant, saw some U.S. states experience their highest rates of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths ever.
Health officials – and others in the mainstream media – have said unvaccinated people were responsible for the surge.
Some in the mainstream media, such as CNN White House reporter Stephen Collinson in an article published on Tuesday, blamed conservatives in particular.
But are red state residents really to blame? The short answer: Yes, but not entirely.
Republicans have been much less likely than Democrats to get vaccinated with the gap only widening as the pandemic has gone on.
They are not the only group with stagnating vaccination rates, however.
Black Americans have been consistently less likely than whites to receive COVID-19 shots and Caucasians have had higher rates than African-Americans in most states reporting breakdown by race/ethnicity.
Several mainstream media outlets have recently said unvaccinated conservatives were responsible for the Delta surge over the summer (above), but a DailyMail.com analysis find that’s not entirely the case
Republicans have been less likely to get vaccinated against Covid at 56% compared 92% of Democrats, and are more likely to say they never plan to get shots
But vaccination rates among black Americans have lagged behind white Americans, CDC data show, with 33% of black Americans (orange line) fully vaccinated compared to 40.4% of whites (purple line)
In his article, Collinson said conservatives are the group most averse to getting the shot, which led to the fourth wave.
‘Rising gasoline prices and inflation, a global supply chain backup that could empty Santa’s sled, and a pandemic Biden was elected to end but that won’t go away dominate a testing political environment,’ he wrote.
‘The economy seems to have forgotten how to get people back to work.
‘That’s largely due to a summer COVID-19 surge powered mostly by conservatives who refuse to get vaccines and who view masking and mandates as an act of government oppression.’
Collinson’s analysis is not entirely unfounded, with data showing a clear divide in vaccination rates along party lines.
According to a report released last month from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), as of mid-September, about 53 percent of people in U.S. counties who voted for Biden are fully vaccinated compared to 40 percent of counties that voted for Trump.
This gap has widened dramatically since April, when 23 percent of people in Biden counties were fully vaccinated compared to 21 percent of Trump counties.
What’s more, a Gallup poll published two weeks ago found 92 percent of those who identify as Democrats have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine compared with 56 percent of Republicans.
What’s more, about a quarter of Republicans say they will ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ not get vaccinated.
This makes them the most vaccine-hesitant group in the country.
A total of 53% of people in U.S. counties who voted for Biden (blue line) are fully vaccinated compared to 40% of counties that voted for Trump (red line)
Madison Cawthorn says today that Biden’s plan to send people door to door to offer vaccines is really a plot to confiscate people’s bibles and guns. pic.twitter.com/h6CPdJwv9t
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) July 9, 2021
Their opposition is despite former President Donald Trump getting vaccinated against Covid and encouraging his supporters to do so as well.
‘I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it. And a lot of those people voted for me, frankly,’ he said during an interview with Fox News in March 2021.
But again, we have our freedoms and we have to live by them and I agree with that also. But it is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine and it is something that works.’
The reasons for why conservatives have opposed vaccines are unclear, but many within the GOP see recent mandates as unconstitutional and a sign of government overreach.
‘Think about what those mechanisms could be used for,’ North Carolina Rep Madison Cawthorn said of the White House’s effort to go door-to-door to vaccinate Americans during an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas in July.
‘They could then go door-to-door to take your guns. They could go door-to-door to take your Bibles.’
But conservatives are not the only group that have lagging vaccinations rates.
Health officials have also struggled to close the racial gap and vaccinate more African-Americans.
As of last week, 57% of those who initiated vaccination in the last 14 days were white and just 15% were African American
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data show that 37.4 percent of black Americans have received one dose of the vaccine and 33 percent are fully vaccinated, as of Tuesday.
By comparison, 43.4 percent of white Americans have gotten at least one dose and 40.4 percent are fully vaccinated.
This disparity has held true since the early days of the pandemic. According to CDC figures, in late January 2021, just two percent of blacks in the U.S. had received an initial shot compared to four percent of whites.
And this gap is present in both red states and blue states.
A DailyMail.com analysis of KFF data found that, among 22 states that voted for Biden in the presidential election – and for which vaccination data is available by race/ethnicity – 59 percent of whites have received at least one dose compared to 51 percent of African-Americans.
And contrary to the narrative, the gap between white and black vaccination rates is narrower in red states.
Among 20 states that voted for Trump, 48 percent of whites have gotten at least one shot as have 42 percent of blacks, according to the analysis.
What’s more, as of last week, 57 percent of all those who initiated vaccination in the last 14 days were white and just 15 percent were black.
Yet, according to CDC data, black Americans are about 1.5 times more likely to contract the virus than white Americans and about three times more likely to die.
It’s not just disparities, such as access to healthcare, that are causing these stark differences in vaccination rates.
Many people of color are distrustful of the medical community due to past racist health policies.
One of the most well-known examples are the Tuskegee experiments from 1932 to 1971, in which black men were used to track the progression of syphilis.
However, the study was run without their consent and they never received treatment to cure the sexually transmitted infection.
‘If you think historically for African Americans in the U.S. in terms of what the history has been with respect to their interaction with the healthcare system, of course we know the Tuskegee study,’ Dr Diana Grigsby-Toussaint, an associate professor in the department behavioral and social sciences in the department of epidemiology as the Brown University School of Public Health, told Healthline earlier this year.
‘Tuskegee was not that long ago. The last surviving member died in 2004. It’s not something that is far removed. It’s still in people’s memory.’
There were also eugenics movements that saw black, Latina and Native American women sterilized across the country in the 20th century.
Grigsby-Toussaint said these past experiments that led to people of color being used as ‘guinea pigs’ and might make racial and ethnic minorities about new immunizations.
This distrust was highlighted in a November 2020 report from Unidos US, the NAACP, and COVID Collaborative, which found that just 14 percent of black Americans trust that coronavirus vaccines is safe.
Additionally, only 18 percent of blacks believe that the shots are effective.