COVID vaccine sent to rural areas often not used by locals

April 21, 2021 GMT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Doses of the coronavirus vaccine that were sent to rural areas of Missouri at the beginning of the state’s immunization campaign often didn’t reach locals, state data shows.

That means that vaccinations in parts of largely rural southern Missouri have stalled at some of the lowest rates in the country, even though rural areas initially received more doses per person than cities, KCUR-FM reports.

For instance, 46,000 doses were allocated as of April 13 to a cluster of nine counties in an area of south-central Missouri where West Plains is located. But state data shows that only 37,000 doses were administered to the region’s 137,110 residents.

State data provides limited information about where they wound up, although many likely went to residents of urban areas.


When vaccines supplies close to home were in short supply, many urban residents embarked on long road trips to get immunized. Rural residents, meanwhile, expressed more hesitancy in polls conducted by the Missouri Hospital Association.

West Plains Mayor Jack Pahlmann said the pandemic had exposed deeply rooted skepticism toward the health care establishment among his Ozark neighbors.

“They’re honest. They’re hard-working,” Pahlmann said. “But they’re just not – the term these days is ‘sheeple’ – they just don’t line up and do whatever the government tells ’em to do.”