Before the start of the mass coronavirus vaccine rollout, many public health experts warned that rural parts of the United States would have a huge disadvantage compared to major cities in distributing the potentially life-saving vaccine doses.
However, less populated states like Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia are among those that have done surprisingly well in vaccinating their respective residents.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration data tracker, which compiles data from health care facilities and public health authorities, Utah has administered the highest percentage of coronavirus vaccines it has received, followed by North Dakota and West Virginia.
The latest data reveal that Utah has received 531,875 vaccine doses in total, and it has administered 510,267, while North Dakota has received 143,400 and administered 129,780 and West Virginia has received 380,400 and administered 327,414.
The data further showed that some smaller states like West Virginia have leaned heavily on its National Guard to lead the mass vaccination effort, likely boosting the overall numbers. Others, like South Dakota, has partnered with its three main health networks to divide up and manage the distribution efforts.
In response, the federal government has recently increased the weekly vaccine shipments by more than 15 percent to South Dakota, in addition to promising to give advance notice of future vaccine shipment plans.
“This is great news for those who are waiting to receive a vaccine and will enable us to continue working with our systems and our distribution efforts,” South Dakota Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said in a recent media briefing.
“That’s important because right now it’s been a week by week thing. The more insight we can have into what might be coming our way, I think it just helps with our planning efforts and it helps our communication efforts with people so they know what to expect.”
A recent study conducted by the personal finance website WalletHub also found that states with smaller populations tend to do better during the ongoing pandemic.
After analyzing all fifty states and the District of Columbia, WalletHub pinpointed Alaska as the nation’s safest state amid the pandemic. North Dakota came in second, followed by Hawaii, Colorado, Vermont, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Minnesota.
Alabama was tabbed as the least safe state, as it was deemed to have the nation’s worst death rate, third-worst transmission rate, fourth-worst vaccination rate, and seventh-worst hospitalization rate.
As for which countries have had the best response to the pandemic, a recent study by an Australian think tank revealed that New Zealand ranked number one, followed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Cyprus, Rwanda, Iceland, Australia, Latvia, and Sri Lanka.
At the other end of the scale was Brazil, which was closely followed by Mexico, Colombia, Iran, and the United States.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.