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Expand chart
Reproduced from U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Some states are expanding vaccine eligibility partially because of a troubling reason: Not enough people want to get vaccinated.

What we're watching: Vaccine supplies are still limited, but they're already outpacing demand in some parts of the country, especially rural areas. And that could be a bad sign for the future.

Where it stands: 14 states have made all adults eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine, and the vast majority have said they will do so by or before President Biden's May 1 goal.

  • Many local governments have also broadened their own eligibility criteria, and demand can vary significantly within states.
  • Those states and cities generally have below-average vaccine demand compared to the rest of the country, and officials say they're letting more people in simply because they weren't getting enough sign-ups.

What they're saying: Vaccine appointments "are not being snapped up in 10 minutes like they were a month ago,” Nirav Shah, director of Maine’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told the Washington Post.

  • “This I take as the very earliest sign that we are shifting from urgency to hesitancy,” he added.
  • "One of the reasons that we are pushing forward on expanding eligibility is because our uptake has been lower than expected," Tennessee's state health commissioner, Lisa Piercey, recently told News 5.
  • Last week, the Illinois department of health said local health departments that have seen waning demand can begin vaccinating anyone 16 and older, the Chicago Tribune reports. Demand is still high in Chicago, but not in other parts of the state.

The big picture: Republicans have emerged as the most vaccine resistant demographic group in the U.S., followed by white evangelical Christians and rural residents.

Details: Among U.S. adults who haven't yet received a coronavirus vaccine, about half say they definitely plan to get one, according to the latest Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey.

  • The share of people saying they definitely plan to get the vaccine is lowest in ruby-red states like Mississippi, Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana.
  • In Mississippi, for example, nearly 1 in 5 unvaccinated people say they definitely don't want a vaccine. In North Dakota, more than a third said the same — significantly more than said they would definitely get vaccinated.
  • In contrast, states with the highest levels of vaccine enthusiasm among the unvaccinated tend to be blue, including the District of Columbia, Vermont, Washington and Massachusetts.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Mar 30, 2021 - Health

Texans line up for COVID vaccine as state expands eligibility to all adults

A worker calls out a time for some patients to be able to leave after being vaccinated at a vaccination site at a senior center in San Antonio, Texas, on Monday. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Texas joined five other states on Monday in rolling out COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to anyone over the age of 16, "regardless of health conditions," per the New York Times.

Why it matters: Texas is the biggest state to expand this eligibility for coronavirus inoculations. Some 22 million Texans can now get vaccinated against the virus, and health officials told NYT people were lining up for a dose Monday.

Mar 31, 2021 - Health

Advocates warn: The clock is ticking on new variants

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Some experts say the world may only have a year or less to stave off a new round of COVID-19 variants that could evade the existing vaccines, according to survey conducted by advocates trying to speed up vaccinations in developing nations.

Why it matters: Variants emerge when viruses spread widely, so quickly vaccinating the entire world is the best way to curb new variants. But some experts are afraid we won't get there fast enough.