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Expand chart
Reproduced from KFF; Chart: Axios Visuals

The gap in vaccination rates between counties that voted for Donald Trump and those that voted for President Biden in 2020 is only getting bigger with time, according to a new KFF analysis.

Why it matters: Vaccination rates provide the strongest indication of which communities are still vulnerable to outbreaks as the Delta variant rapidly spreads.

State of play: The virus is still killing hundreds of Americans every day, and experts fear that number will only rise with the spread of new variants.

  • On the other hand, study after study has shown the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines.

Driving the news: A study published yesterday in Nature found that antibodies in people who had recovered from COVID were significantly less potent against Delta than the Alpha variant that first detected in the U.K.

  • One dose of a vaccine, however, significantly boosted their response.
  • Further, antibodies from people who had received only one dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines "barely inhibited" Delta, but two doses generated an effective response in 95% of people.

Between the lines: Some public figures — like Sen. Rand Paul — have pushed the idea that people previously infected with the coronavirus don't need to be vaccinated.

  • Others have made the case that we're closer to herd immunity than vaccination rates alone imply, because of the protection generated by prior infection.
  • But this new data suggests that unvaccinated individuals and communities with low vaccination rates — which are more likely to be Republican — are still vulnerable to outbreaks regardless of how hard they've been hit before.

Yes, but: Political ideology isn't the only demographic fault line in vaccine rates.

  • Hispanic and Black Americans still have lower vaccination rates than Asian and white Americans, and the rates for all four groups have plateaued, according to another KFF analysis.

Go deeper

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."