Conservative areas have lower rates of vaccination for Covid-19. That statement shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. However, the CDC is finding now that these same areas are showing lower rates of vaccination for the seasonal flu. (1)
The divergence is quite remarkable. For the flu season of 2021-2022:
- Covid-19 vaccines: Use varied from 50% in Alabama to 81% in Rhode Island
- Flu vaccines: Use varied from 31% in Mississippi to 59% in Connecticut
In the prior flu season, the variation in use of the flu vaccine was not nearly this great. For that reason, the CDC hypothesizes that the controversy stirred up over the Covid vaccines hurt acceptance of the flu vaccine.
That’s certainly one possibility. Another is that the controversy became a convenient excuse for people who don’t like needles to avoid them. In Democratic areas of the US, there is arguably peer pressure in favor of vaccination. Not so much in GOP areas.
As data becomes available, it will be interesting to see if there are declines in use of other vaccines, for example tetanus and MMR vaccines. What other illnesses might re-emerge as use of these vaccines declines? The World Health Organization warned in April about a potential upsurge in measles cases due to lower rates of vaccination.(5,6)
In the near term, this analysis will be clouded by supply chain disruptions that have reduced availability of some vaccines.(3) Also, lockdowns earlier in the pandemic may have hampered consumer access to some vaccines.(4)
One thing is certain: health risk needs to become a consideration in business location decisions. Low vaccination rates increase the odds of business disruptions.(7) Definitely not good for profits.