Earlier this week, NPR published an analysis of vaccination rates across the country, titled “There’s A Stark Red-Blue Divide When It Comes To States’ Vaccination Rates.” However, like so many other examples of political insights rooted in “the science,” the data was carefully curated to achieve the desired result: Trump bad, Biden good.
Domenico Montanaro wrote that “surveys have shown Trump supporters are the least likely to say they have been vaccinated or plan to be,” and that “The top 22 states (including D.C.) with the highest adult vaccination rates all went to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.” Meanwhile, “Some of the least vaccinated states are the most pro-Trump.”
Accompanying these claims was a deliberately misleading graph, which showed “blue states” as the most vaccinated, with “red states” as the least vaccinated, with a handful of exceptions. However, past the 65% vaccinated mark, every state was blue.
There’s a major political divide in the COVID-19 vaccination push.
All the states with the highest adult vaccination rates were won by President Biden in 2020 — and Trump supporters are the least likely to say they’ve been vaccinated or plan to be.https://t.co/0kWawiIvj6
— NPR (@NPR) June 9, 2021
If you were to accept these claims and this graph at face value, you would conclude — as is desired — that voting for Trump or Biden has an impact on your willingness to get vaccinated. The article therefore also makes the subtle claim that Democrat states like New York and California are “good,” while Republican states like Florida and Texas are “bad.”
However, like so much lazy science in pursuit of a political conclusion, this analysis ignores that COVID-19 outcomes vary by age, and with vaccination continuing across the country, what matters is not just that people get vaccinated, but that the right people get vaccinated first.
And who are the right people? According to the CDC, “Older unvaccinated adults are more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19.”
The guidelines add, “Older adults are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. Getting very sick means that older adults with COVID-19 might need hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they might even die. The risk increases for people in their 50s and increases in 60s, 70s, and 80s. People 85 and older are the most likely to get very sick.”
When we take this into account, it’s clear that vaccination should be prioritized in terms of those who are most at risk — and this is precisely the strategy multiple states have been following, including the “bad Republican” states scorned above.
When we adjust the data for those at least 65-years of age who have received at least one vaccine dose, the conclusion changes immediately. According to CDC data for example, Florida — effectively the nation’s oldest state — has provided 88.5% of its residents aged 65-years and older with one dose or more. This is more than New York, with 84.1%. Texas, comparatively, has provided 81.3% of its residents aged 65-years and older with one dose or more.
It’s important to acknowledge that some “blue states” have excellent vaccination rates in this age group. Pennsylvania, for example, has provided 99.3% of its residents aged 65-years and older with one dose or more.
However, the fact that Florida is beating New York in terms of vaccinating those who need it most serves as further proof that “science” alone isn’t sufficient when it’s used (and abused) to reach a pre-selected conclusion.
After all, we can probably presume that NPR didn’t think that “Florida beats New York” was as catchy a headline?
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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