New survey data identified part of Butte County as having the second-highest COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy in the United States. The area in question is the 83244 zip code, which covers the unincorporated community of Howe and the upper Little Lost River Valley north of the Idaho National Laboratory site in the Arco Desert.
The data on vaccination hesitancy is from an ongoing Carnegie Mellon University survey that collects responses from 50,000 Americans every day via Facebook. The data is broken out by over 32,900 zip codes and over 3,100 counties.
The survey results for vaccination hesitancy can be viewed with an interactive mapping tool published by the the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the nonprofit COVID Collaborative. The mapping tool is updated every two weeks and can show time slices of vaccine hesitancy from January through June 2021.
At the time this article was written, the most recent data set available through the mapping tool was uploaded on June 10. In the 83244 zip code area, 98.2% of the survey respondents expressed hesitancy toward receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. This hesitancy rate was the second-highest in the nation, outdone only by the 69340 zip code for Sheridan, Nebraska, at 98.8%.
“This data visualization is designed for health officials and other policymakers who are working to educate their constituents about the safety and benefits of COVID-19 vaccines,” said John Bridgeland, co-founder and CEO of COVID Collaborative in a June 24 statement. “By making this data easily accessible down to the level of individual ZIP codes, IHME and COVID Collaborative can help ensure that those efforts reach the ‘movable middle’: those people who aren’t yet vaccinated but are open to being convinced.”
“Increasing vaccination rates is crucial to prevent further deaths and infections from COVID-19, especially with new variants circulating,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. “It is more dangerous now to be unvaccinated than it was a year ago, because the variants are both more transmissible and more deadly. We hope that this tool will provide valuable guidance to health leaders as they work to reach those who are not yet vaccinated.”
In the U.S., the median hesitancy for all zip codes was 19%. More than 6,000 zip codes had hesitancy above 30%, while over 1.900 had less than 5% hesitancy. The mapping tool showed that while a county may have a lower hesitancy rate, some zip codes within a county could be pockets of high hesitancy.
For example, Lemhi County had an overall hesitancy of 37.01% while the 83468 zip code for Tendoy formed a pocket with a rate of 87.69% next door to the 83467 zip for Salmon with a rate of 35.55%. The hesitancy for Tendoy was the second-highest in the state.
The third-highest rate was 75.04% for the 83808 communities of Calder and Erimo in Shoshone County. This zip was was next to a rural 83802 zip code in Shoshone Co. with a hesitancy of 3.38%. The lowest hesitancy in Idaho was 0.53% for zip code 83278 centered on Stanley. Most Idaho zip codes has hesitancy rates of 36.4% or lower though only eight Idaho zip codes (83202, 83227, 83272, 83278, 83312, 83324, 83424 and 83657) had hesitancies below 5%.
There were no clear geographic patterns for vaccination hesitancy, though none of the highest hesitancy rates were in or near urban zip codes.