May 12, 2021 - News
Mapping vaccine hesitancy in Minnesota
Data: Minnesota Department of Health; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

In the race to vaccinate as many people as possible, some parts of Minnesota are running faster than others.

The big picture: The metro areas of the Twin Cities and Rochester have the highest vaccination rates, while counties in central and western Minnesota have the lowest, according to Minnesota Department of Health data.

Zoom in: Rural Minnesota has been much more vaccine hesitant.

  • Vaccine hesitancy is higher among people with more conservative political beliefs and evangelical Christians, who disproportionately live in rural areas, Carrie Henning-Smith, deputy director of the Rural Health Research Center at the University of Minnesota, told MPR News.
  • But Gov. Tim Walz said it's not that simple. "There are numerous reasons people haven't been vaccinated yet. And I would argue it's not simply ideological or anti-vaxxer mentality," he said at a press conference earlier this month.

Why it matters: Public health officials say getting to 70% to 80% vaccination will lead to herd community and prevent the spread of COVID-19. But having low vaccination rates in a community could lead to future outbreaks.

  • Plus: Walz will lift the state's mask mandate when 70% of the population 16 and over gets vaccinated, or July 1, whichever comes first.

Here are the top five counties with the highest vaccination rate for those 16 and over getting at least one dose:

  • Cook County (Grand Marais): 79%
  • Olmsted County (Rochester): 74%
  • Hennepin County: 70%
  • Ramsey County 67%
  • Fillmore County (south of Rochester): 67%

And here are the bottom five:

  • Benton County (Sauk Rapids and east): 36%
  • Todd County (north of Sauk Center): 38%
  • Wilkin County (south of Fargo): 38%
  • Isanti County (just north of the Twin Cities): 38%
  • Kanabec County (Mora): 39%

The bottom line: Minnesota's over-16 vaccination rate is 60.5%, and President Joe Biden on Tuesday praised Walz and five other governors leading states with strong vaccine outreach.

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