Commentary: Left-leaning urban America is also vaccine hesitant

It's hard to blame MAGA world for Oakland's shortcomings.

Minnesota National Guard/Twitter

Despite the media’s preferred narrative, large portions of unvaccinated Americans are not conspiratorial MAGA-hat-donning Republicans, but urban and suburban Democrats or independents.

As of today, almost 70% of adult Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with over 60% fully vaccinated. An incredible nine in 10 seniors have been inoculated.

Though vaccine acceptance varies by region, it’s been consistently lower among non-white people. Many do have legitimate rationale that runs counter to caricatures of rural rednecks dominating the resistance.

Ignoring this, CNN’s Chris Cillizza opined, “In theory, there is absolutely no reason why states that voted heavily for Trump should be any less willing to take a vaccine to fight a virus that has killed more than 600,000 Americans than states that went strongly for Biden.”

First off, measuring vaccination rates by states isn’t effective.

Secondly, how is there “absolutely no reason” for the disparity? The groups receiving the fewest vaccinations are black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and impoverished white folks. You can find millions fitting those descriptions in the Southeast, Southwest and Appalachia.

Max Boot, who believes authoritarian Saudi Arabia is more rational than the U.S., lectured, “The states that have the lowest vaccination rates — Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wyoming — are all Republican redoubts. These Republicans have fallen victim to a virulent strain of misinformation circulating in the right-wing echo chamber.”

Since the parochial Boot rarely leaves the coast, he does not realize that the states he listed, except Wyoming, are relatively poor, undereducated, and not nearly as “white” as his Northeast.

Mississippi ranks 49th in household income and percentage of adults with college degrees. Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana have similar numbers for income and education. All four states have large poor black and white populations with low educational attainment. Since they struggle with a host of health issues Boot and Cillizza can’t fathom, why would coronavirus be different?

“It would be fair to say that lower-income whites without college degrees are more strongly inclined to both support Donald Trump and resist vaccinations, but the former is not the main cause of the latter,” Chris Stirewalt recently wrote. “Poorer, less-educated voters have always been more susceptible to demagogic populism, but that’s not the cause of health struggles among those voters.”

In Minnesota, which is among the most educated states, just over half of black residents have received a first dose, compared with the overall rate of two thirds.

Out west, it’s the same story.

Fewer than 30% of vaccinations in California have gone to Hispanics, but they account for 63% of cases, half of all deaths, and are over 40% of the population.

In the nation’s capital, black people have received 43% of vaccinations but they make up 56% of cases, over 70% of deaths, and nearly half the population. Hard to blame MAGA world for Oakland and Ward 8’s shortcomings.

In New York, it’s political. Privileged teachers of all races became eligible for vaccination back in early January, yet almost seven months later, 40% of them remain unvaccinated.

“Clearly these educators were not all that worried about catching COVID-19,” Jim Geraghty claimed this week. “Apparently the fear of the coronavirus was just powerful enough to make returning to classrooms unthinkable, but not quite so powerful enough to get them to get off their butts and go get vaccinated.”

What’s interesting is how public health officials — finally realizing it’s also urban folks and liberal interest groups refusing the poke — suddenly stopped playing the blame Red America game.

“They now talk about the unvaccinated in very deferential and understanding terms, which you wouldn’t hear not too long ago, acknowledging a lot of vaccine resistance is occurring in major city centers,” Noah Rothman said Wednesday. “The vast majority of this country has been convinced by the messaging that you should get vaccinated; the rest are not reachable. All they can do is the same thing they’ve already done forever because they have no other ideas.”

Perhaps the Biden administration finally understands that the condescension and misinformation is hurting their party.