DENVER (KDVR) — If you want to guess a Colorado county’s overall vaccination rate, check who its residents voted for in the 2020 presidential elections, and how strongly.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has a map of all Colorado sites that have received a vaccine shipment in the last two weeks.
Naturally, the counties with larger population have more vaccine recipients.
The overwhelming majority of Colorado’s vaccination centers lie in the counties along the Front Range counties where most Coloradans live. Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Pueblo and Weld counties together contain almost 80% of the vaccination sites listed on the CDPHE’s map.
The differences in vaccination rates in these counties, however, illustrates statewide differences.
The number of available vaccine clinics alone doesn’t synch with vaccination rates. El Paso County has roughly the same number of vaccine sites per person as Boulder County, but Boulder’s vaccination rate is almost 75% while El Paso’s is less than 50%.
Population density alone also doesn’t effectively predict a county’s vaccination rate.
Rural counties with lots of distance between population centers and vaccine clinics would have lower vaccination rates, according to common wisdom, but this isn’t the case in Colorado.
Some of Colorado’s least dense counties have some of the highest vaccination rates, while others have some of the lowest.
San Juan, San Miguel, Summit and Pitkin counties have the state’s highest vaccination rates at 89%, 85%, 81% and 78%, respectively.
In contrast, Crowley, Bent, Washington and Cheyenne counties have the lowest rates at 18%, 20%, 29% and 29%.
San Juan and San Miguel average the same population density as the four least vaccinated, roughly five people per square mile. Both Pitkin and Summit have higher population densities, but only as compared to urban areas.
Accessibility, meaning distance from population center to vaccine clinics, also doesn’t determine vaccine rates, according to population heat maps from the Colorado demography department.
Elbert and Lincoln counties have some of the state’s lowest vaccination rates. In both counties, vaccine clinics are in the major population centers. Ouray County, meanwhile, has a single vaccination provider in its largely rural area but has a vaccination rate nearly 15 points higher.
Politics predict more the vaccination rate more accurately. Vaccinations rates match more strongly with political association than median income, one of the more reliable political predictors.
A map of the 2020 presidential election and county vaccination rates bear a striking resemblance.
A county is grouped red if it voted for former U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2020 elections and blue if it voted for President Joe Biden. Darker reds or blues mean higher percentages of votes cast for either candidate.
In the second map, a county is grouped according to vaccination rate. Dark blues are the highest vaccination rates and darker reds the lowest rates.
The counties with the highest vaccination rates voted Biden, while those with lower rates voted Trump.
The 10 counties with the highest vaccination rates have an average rate of 79%. All but one of these counties (Mineral County) voted for Biden.
The 10 counties with the lowest vaccination rates average 30%, less than half the top 10. All but one of these counties voted for Trump.