Michigan adults living in affluent neighborhoods are almost three times more likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to residents of low-income neighborhoods, according to state data.
As of May 22, about 74% of adults age 18 and older living in Census tracts with a median household income of $100,000 or more had obtained at least one dose of vaccine, according to data obtained by MLive through the Freedom of Information Act.
That compares to 28% for Census tracts with a median household income below $25,000, the data shows. The statewide vaccination rate was 51.5% for ages 18 and older on May 22.
Below is a map of vaccination rates by Michigan’s 2,600-plus Census tracts. To read the map better, zoom in on a specific county or community by clicking on the “plus” sign at the bottom left of the map. You can click on a tract to see the underlying demographics, based on U.S. Census estimates. (At the end of this post are more maps and a database.)
The Census-tract dataset comes with some caveats, starting with the fact that population numbers are based on the Census Bureau’s five-year averages for 2014-18, which means the vaccination rates may be thrown off by recent, significant increases or decreases in population not reflected in the Census estimates.
In addition, as explained in more depth below, differences in the way that college students and prisoners are counted in regards to the Census and the way their vaccinations get recorded mean that Census tracts in and around university campuses or that include correctional facilities have a lot of statistical noise.
That said, the state is providing the Census-level tract data to local public health departments, who say it’s a valuable tool for identifying specific neighborhoods with low vaccination rates.
”You can kind of zoom in, and see if there’s a partner — a nonprofit, a food bank, a church, a community center — whatever you might be able to work with to set stuff up,” said Linda Vail, head of the Ingham County Health Department. “So my team is using it for that.”
She and others say it’s not surprising to see a socioeconomic divide in vaccination rates, a trend that exists in most health indicators.
In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, lower rates among people with lower incomes indicates both vaccine hesitancy from a mistrust of government and/or the medical establishments as well as access issues, experts say.
At this point, local health departments are seeking to make obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine as convenient as possible, with pop-up and walk-in clinics in neighborhood locations such as schools and pharmacies. Still, they say, some struggle to find the time to get vaccinated — particularly if they’re a younger adult less at risk of contracting a severe COVID-19 infection. And another issue is the potential of getting sick for a day or two from the vaccine.
“One thing that we’re hearing is that some of these lower-wage workers may have multiple jobs or jobs where it’s a lot more difficult to get time off from work,” said Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, spokesman for the Washtenaw County Health Department. “Some of those circumstances really might be interfering with that ease of getting a vaccine.”
In addition to income, the Census-level data also shows other sociodemographic divides, including gaps in vaccination rates by race, percent of residents with a college degree and by political affiliation.
By race, the vaccination rate as of May 22 was 38% for communities where at least half of residents are Black. Interestingly, communities were at least 98% of residents are White had a vaccination rate of 48%, which also is a little below the state average.
Barriers around Covid-19 vaccine help explain low vaccination rate in Michigan’s Black communities
By educational attainment, Census tracts where more than 40% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, had a vaccination rate of 58% compared to a vaccination rate of 35% where less than 10% are college graduates.
The political divide is more muddy. On the whole, surveys show much more vaccine hesitancy among Republicans than Democrats. However, some Census tracts with low vaccination rates are also low-income urban communities that vote overwhelmingly Democratic.
Still, the vaccination rate as of May 22 averaged 42% in Census tracts located in the 16 Michigan counties where Donald Trump received two-thirds or more of the 2020 presidential vote compared to 54% in the 12 counties where Trump received less than half the vote.
The 16 counties in the first group: Arenac, Alcona, Branch, Gladwin, Hillsdale, Kalkaska, Lapeer, Missaukee, Montcalm, Montmorency, Newaygo, Ogemaw, Osceola, Oscoda, Sanilac and Tuscola.
The 12 counties in the second group: Eaton, Genesee, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent, Leelanau, Marquette, Muskegon, Oakland, Saginaw, Washtenaw and Wayne.
Interestingly, Census tracts with the lowest vaccination rates tend to be on or around state universities. That’s largely a statistical anomaly because of a mismatch of how college students are counted for the Census vs. how they are counted for vaccination purposes, Vail said.
She noted the Census population estimates count college students based on where they live during the school year. But when getting vaccinated, many students are using their home address, particularly if that address is already on file in the state’s statewide vaccine registry system.
“Their vaccination record is not necessarily going to land in the same place” as where students get counted for Census purposes, Vail said.
The low vaccination rates around college campuses are further exacerbated by several other issues, said Vail and Ringler-Cerniglia.
One is that Census numbers reflect pre-pandemic population estimates, which don’t present an accurate picture of college campus populations this past spring when many students were doing remote classes from their parents’ homes. Another is that young adults didn’t get access to the vaccine until April, shortly before the end of the spring semester. Yet another issue was that many vaccination clinics set up for April on college campuses were disrupted by the temporary hold on Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
.”So all of those vaccination efforts in the college towns happened in the crunch of a Johnson and Johnson pause and then they graduated and were gone,” Vail said.
For those reasons, Vail said, “I basically ignore” the Census tract data in her county for tracts in and around Michigan State University.
“Those aren’t the Census tracts I get worried about,” she said. “I get concerned about my inner city census tracts that are lagging behind.”
Likewise, Census tracts that include correctional facilities also have inaccurate vaccination rates. That’s because inmates are included in the Census population figures but their vaccination numbers but they are not part of the county-level vaccination data.
The takeaway, said Vail and Ringler-Cerniglia: While the Census-tract data is valuable in looking at trends, there is some statistical noise — something to keep in mind when looking at the maps and database below.
Here’s the database with median household income by Census tract. You can search by county to see the Census tracts ranked in that county by their vaccination rate.
The database is followed by a series of maps labeled with Census tract numbers. You can Zoom in on a county to see the numbers more clearly; to do that, click the “plus” sign at the bottom left of the map.
More on MLive:
As Michigan claws its way toward 70% vaccinated, we asked every state lawmaker where they stand
Why is it difficult for some to ditch the mask post-vaccination?
After developing rare blood clots post coronavirus vaccine, Michigan man wants more awareness
Credit: Source link