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Why Is One Idaho County’s Vaccinate Rate So Much Higher Than The State’s?


Blaine County is leading the state for COVID-19 vaccination rates. About 80% of the county’s 65-and-older residents are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 



That’s 13% higher than the statewide rate for 65-and-older populations, as reported by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. 



“Throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen a lot of eagerness on the part of residents in Blaine County,” said Brianna Bodily, the public information officer for the South Central Public Health District. “To not only follow the recommendations of the health district, which now absolutely includes vaccinations, but also to stay very abreast of all of the research.”


Bodily said the district was expecting high vaccination numbers in Blaine County, which encompasses the Sun Valley Resort area. For one, it has a higher share of older residents than the state average, meaning more people there were eligible for the vaccine earlier. 


The county also votes Democrat more than any other part of Idaho, which according to national and state surveys, means residents are more likely to want the COVID-19 vaccine. 


Additionally, Blaine has the state’s highest median household income, giving people the time and resources to hunt down vaccine appointments, even if it means traveling to another county. 


“We’ve heard from providers who found out after the fact that their appointments were being taken up by people who lived outside of their community, often people who lived in Blaine County who were willing to travel,” said Bodily.


The trend started when the 65 and older group became eligible. It concerned some providers in the Magic Valley, like in Cassia and Twin Falls counties, who were trying to reserve appointments for people with fewer resources. That included clinics that wanted to make appointments available for people who only spoke Spanish.


“They started to realize that many of those appointment slots weren’t being filled by the people they were trying to provide them to, because other people were much faster at asking for those appointments,” Bodily said.


As a result, some providers began reserving vaccination opportunities for specific groups or local residents.



But now, Bodily said, the district is in a different vaccination stage because appointments are more plentiful, and anyone 16 and older can sign up. 

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen  

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio