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Another divide when it comes to vaccine attitudes

Much has been written, understandably so, about the fault lines in U.S. society between those willing and often eager to take the COVID-19 vaccine and those disinclined to do so.

The divides fall across racial lines. Black Americans, suspicious of the medical establishment for well-documented historical reasons, initially were skeptical, an attitude that seems to be changing. And they fall across political affiliations, with a far higher percentage of Republicans — particularly white male Republicans — indicating they have no plans to be inoculated.

But not much attention has been paid to another divide — the one between rural and suburban/urban Americans. Kaiser Health News documents the wariness of rural residents about the vaccine and the reasons behind it, many of which reflect a broader wariness about the entire pandemic and the public health directives aimed at fighting it.

Nationwide, a smaller share of rural residents say they will definitely get a covid shot compared with their more urban counterparts. More than a third, 35%, of those who live outside big-city borders said they would probably not or definitely not get vaccinated, compared with about a quarter of suburban and urban residents, according to a poll by KFF.

The rural divide undoubtedly has some overlap with the political one. And it probably reflects broader schisms between the cultural values and economic realities experienced by folks who live in dramatically different places. Still, it’s a divide that civic, health and government leaders will have to address for the vaccination program to truly work.