May 21, 2021 - News
Analysis: Florida counties with high Trump support have low vaccination rates
A man receives a coronavirus vaccine shot in Florida.
A man gets a vaccine shot at a former Sears store in Leesburg on the first day that adults in Florida of any age became eligible to be vaccinated. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

An analysis of statewide vaccination and polling data by the USA Today Network-Florida shows that GOP affiliation makes it more likely someone has hardened opposition to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The intrigue: A key predictor of who will shun the shots is whether they reside in Florida counties that strongly supported former President Trump in the 2020 election, the analysis found.

  • The same is true even among seniors, who are at most risk of death and complications from COVID-19, the network reports.

By the numbers: In the 55 counties Trump won last November, the overall vaccination rate was 41.7%, the analysis shows.

By comparison, the rate was 45.5% in the 12 counties carried by President Biden, even though there are roughly 3.4 million more people living in these dozen counties than the rest of the state.

  • The divide is more stark in the eight counties Trump won with at least 80% of the vote.

Of note: The analysis used vaccination data, voting records and Census Bureau estimates, and it considered factors from race and language to education and income. More here.

The big picture: The analysis seems to confirm what some in public health have suspected: that loyal followers of the former president, who made light of the dangers of COVID-19, have not become vaccinated at a rate equal to the general population.

Why it matters: Public health experts say that the virus can find those low vaccination pockets and mutate enough to then infect the vaccinated population.

  • "These pockets can support this thing breaking out again" Thomas Unnasch, a professor at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, told the network. "We do not want to create places where the virus can hide and then come out and bite us."
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