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Expand chart
Data: CDC and Simon Willison; Note: The last reliable figure reported for New Hampshire was 83.9% on April 6, 2021; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

More than 80% of Americans 65 and older have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, per the CDC, but millions across the country remain unvaccinated — particularly in the South.

Why it matters: Seniors who have yet to receive their shot remain highly vulnerable to the virus even as the country overall becomes safer.

By the numbers: More than two-thirds of residents 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine in every state. But some states are much closer than others to universal vaccination among seniors.

  • States in the Northeast, including Vermont, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, have the highest vaccination rates among seniors.
  • Southern states — like Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee — have some of the lowest.

Yes, but: Some states have done a worse job vaccinating seniors than their overall populations, and a state's political leaning isn't necessarily an indicator of how many seniors have gotten their shots.

  • Hawaii, for example, is the state with the lowest vaccination rate among seniors — only 69.3% have received at least one dose. But 39.8% of all state residents have received at least one dose, which is nearly equivalent to the national average.
  • Ruby-red South Dakota is among states with high senior vaccination rates, mirroring its above-average vaccination rate in the general population as well.

Between the lines: It's unclear whether the remaining 20% of people 65 and older are struggling to get access to a vaccine, or simply don't want one.

  • KFF polling has found that only 8% of seniors say they definitely don't want to get a vaccine, and 1% say they'll only get one if required. Another 7% said they want to "wait and see" before getting a shot.
  • Put together, that's 16% of seniors, which suggests that it'll be an uphill battle to get shots in the arms of many seniors who remain unvaccinated.

Go deeper

Apr 19, 2021 - Health

When vaccine hesitancy becomes political

Data: CDC and New York Times; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The counties with the most vaccine-hesitant residents generally also voted for Donald Trump in 2020 by large margins, whereas the counties with the lowest levels of hesitancy generally also had fewer Trump voters.

Why it matters: Your politics don't have anything to do with whether you're vulnerable to the coronavirus if you remain unvaccinated.

Apr 19, 2021 - Health

All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Healthcare workers getting COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 16, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

All 50 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have made U.S. adults over the age of 16 eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, successfully meeting the April 19 deadline set by President Biden.

Why it matters: The landmark speaks to the increased pace of the national vaccination campaign, but will increase pressure on the federal government, states and pharmaceutical companies to provide adequate vaccine supply and logistics.

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