What’s Left: The Republican States Need to Change Their Vaccine Rollout Plans

Sophie Hart, Contributing Writer

On Jan. 20, 2021, Joe Biden assumed office taking on a mismanaged national response to the global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccines were beginning to be available to Americans, but the Trump administration left office without a vaccine distribution plan while spreading rhetoric against receiving the vaccine. President Biden created a $20 billion national vaccine program to work with federal, state and local officials to send vaccines to local vaccination sites and pharmacies with the goal of administering 100 million doses of the vaccine in his first 100 days in office. One key component in equally distributing the vaccine to everyone was Biden’s decision to make the vaccine free to all people no matter their race, class, gender or immigration status. The Biden Administration also launched a national awareness campaign to assert the scientific data about the vaccine’s safety and efficacy and promote the importance of every individual getting vaccinated. On his 58th day in office, President Biden met his goal of administering 100 million vaccines, and he increased his goal to administering 200 million vaccines in his first 100 days. 

However, due to partisan disagreement, the spread of misinformation, less efficient distribution and hesitancy and refusal in many Republicans in receiving the vaccine, Republican states are vaccinating their residents at a lower rate than Democratic states. The states with the highest percentages of eligible individuals receiving the vaccine are blue states that Biden won during the November election. On the other hand, the states with the lowest number of individuals receiving the vaccine are all red states that Trump won in November. This is a direct result of the percentage of eligible people in each state who are eager to be vaccinated or refuse to be vaccinated. In blue states and densely populated areas, residents have difficulty finding appointment times due to limited supply and high demand; however, in red states like Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, vaccine administration sites are having difficulty finding people to fill their appointments. This is causing the leadership in these states to change their distribution plans, increasing eligibility, and in some states, considering opening vaccines to nonresidents. 

The hesitancy of many Republicans to receive the vaccine and the discrepancy in distribution rates between red and blue states has national implications. For President Biden’s national goals to continue to be met and to reach herd immunity by vaccinating at least 70% of Americans, Republican states will need to change their rollout plans and work to dispel misinformation to promote the importance of vaccination and encourage all of their residents to receive the vaccine.