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Texas is showing little partisan divide so far in COVID-19 vaccination rates

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National polling has shown that Republicans express far more hesitancy than Democrats on whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Almost half of the people who support former President Donald Trump say they won’t get vaccinated.

But so far in Texas, we’re not seeing much of a partisan divide in vaccination rates, according to an El Paso Matters analysis of voting and vaccination data. 

The 22 Texas counties carried by President Joe Biden in the November 2020 election have fully vaccinated 15.7% of their population over age 16 as of March 26. That’s just slightly higher than the 15.3% fully vaccinated rate in the 232 counties carried by former President Donald Trump. (Biden’s support was strongest in the state’s most populous counties; Trump was strongest in the state’s rural areas. Overall, Trump carried Texas by 5.6 percentage points.)

The vaccination rates in the  216 Texas counties that Trump carried by more than 20 percentage points is a full point less than the 11 counties that the former president won by less than 10 points. It’s also almost a full point less than the vaccination rates in the seven counties (including El Paso) that Biden won by more than 20 points.

Variables other than partisan identification impact county-level data. For example, people in rural areas that form the backbone of Trump’s Texas support often face long drives to access health care; Texans who live in urban areas that formed most of Biden’s support face their own barriers to accessing vaccines, including language barriers and lack of access to health care. 

The potential for a partisan vaccine divide in Texas bears watching in the coming weeks. Until now, vaccines in Texas have been restricted to certain groups: frontline health-care workers, people in nursing homes, people over 65 and people with health conditions that make them susceptible to COVID-19 complications. But beginning Monday, all Texans age 16 and older are eligible for the vaccine.  

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Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist and the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on border issues by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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