When the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out, Clyde Muchmore was ready to drive across Oklahoma to get it.
“At the very, very first, all we knew was that a whole lot of people were dying,” recalled Muchmore, 80, of Oklahoma City. He scheduled a vaccine, he said, “on absolutely the first day I could.”
Nearly half of Oklahoma’s overall population has declined the COVID-19 vaccine. Yet more than 90 percent of seniors in the state have completed at least one round of inoculations, and almost two-thirds have received at least one booster. Both figures fall close to national averages.
The same pattern plays out in other Republican-majority states. Public health data suggests red-state resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine is largely the province of the young.
- In the five reddest states, as measured in the 2020 election, overall COVID-19 vaccination rates lag well below the national average of 68 percent. But seniors in those states are vaccinated at rates ranging from 86 percent in Wyoming and West Virginia to 91 percent in Oklahoma.
- In the United States as a whole, 92 percent of seniors have completed at least one round of vaccines.
- Seniors in the reddest states are inoculated and boosted at nearly the same rate as older Americans overall. The trend holds in Wyoming and West Virginia, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Idaho, all states where large majorities of voters cast ballots for former President Trump in 2020.
Prevention over politics: Public health experts say older Americans in conservative states have embraced the COVID-19 vaccine as a matter of survival, prioritizing it above partisan politics, libertarian impulses and fears of government overreach.