Western Counties More Hesitant On Vaccine, Unclear Why

N.D. is facing a second wave of COVID-19 as new strains continue to spread across the nation, but the state is divided on how to handle the current situation.

According to usafacts.org, in N.D., 713,061 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with less than half of that number fully vaccinated, leaving the state with only 43% of the population being fully vaccinated. The 43% of vaccinated citizens is not to be confused with the 50% of the state having received at least one dose.

Health officials are not happy with the vaccination rates overall in the state but they are worse when looking at the western part of the state.

“We clearly have more vaccine hesitancy in the western part of the state,” said Dr. Doug Griffin, Sanford Vice President and Medical Officer in Fargo. “I think there’s a much more frontier, independent nature and philosophy out there. Politics are part of it, but I think it’s more they don’t want to be told what to do. But really, I’m not sure I have a good answer for that.”

When looking at the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases and vaccination status across the state, a question on the effectiveness of the vaccine can be analyzed.

“The COVID hotspots are mirror images of vaccination status,” Griffin said.

Gov. Doug Burgum blames the politicalization of the whole pandemic for the lack of vaccinations across the state.

“I think that the politicization of every aspect of the pandemic from vaccines to masks has created what some are calling the death of the expert,” Burgum said. “Because of lack of trust in the news sources, people are believing their own sources and their own networks. I think it’s just the fact of the matter.”

The two largest counties in the state, Burliegh in the west and Cass in the east, show the correlation between the vaccine rate and positive cases.

According to nd.health.gov, Burliegh county has a population of 95,626 and Cass county has a population of 181,923, but when looking at their rate of positive cases, Burleigh county is sitting at a rate of 19,649 cases per 100,000 people while Cass has a rate of 15,296 cases per 100,000 people even though it’s twice the size of the latter, according to nd.health.gov

When looking at nd.health.gov’s information on primary series of the vaccine completed the counties to the west tend to be in the low 40% with the far west getting to the 30% range. While the western part of the state does have higher rates with most counties having upwards of 40% to the far west reaching up to 60% of the population being fully vaccinated.

As the new variants continue to spread across the country and reach N.D., the vaccine will be put to the test. As of the current information available on the vaccine rates and their correlation between positive cases, the east seems to be doing better with their higher vaccination numbers.

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