The most vaccinated region in the US is … Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has become the most vaccinated region in the US and why that may be so is interesting.

Puerto Rico has fully vaccinated just over 73% of its 3.3 million residents, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s more than 2.3 million people.

On the mainland, Vermont leads with 70.8% of the population fully vaccinated, followed by Connecticut at 70.2% and Maine at 70%, according to the CDC, which added that just over 57% of the total US population was fully vaccinated as of Friday.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, wrote on Twitter that Puerto Rico’s “fabulous” vaccination efforts have “gotten way too little attention.”

“Best I can tell, they’ve done this largely by not tying vaccines to politics,” Jha wrote last weekend. “They pay less attention to mainland politics. All their political parties actively support vaccinations. And generally, political [identity] & vaccinations are not intermixed.” [My emphasis-MS]

Dr. Iris Cardona, chief medical officer of the island’s health department, attributed the success to teamwork by the scientific community, the private sector, government agencies, medical associations and schools, the National Guard and religious and municipal leadership.

The reasons for the enlightened approach is that the island had been hit repeatedly with disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes and this has resulted in a public health system being created that is better prepared to deal with catastrophes.

Dr. Víctor Ramos, a pediatrician and president of the island’s Association of Physicians and Surgeons, said mass vaccination centers were set up by the National Guard in shopping malls throughout the island.

There were door-to-door vaccination events in remote rural towns, where shots were administered in homes, particularly to the elderly and bedridden.

“We will go wherever we need to go to vaccinate people,” Ramos said. “After (Hurricane) Maria many people were holed up in remote towns and we had to get out there to help them. We’re doing the same now with the vaccine.”

They have been able to do this despite being one of the poorest regions in the US.

Not only is Puerto Rico poor compared to much of the mainland, Jha noted, but it also has a larger population than 21 states. It’s about “5 times bigger” than Vermont, he wrote. The poverty rate on the island was about 43% in 2018, compared to 13% at the national level and more than double Mississippi’s 19.7%, according to the US Census Bureau.

We should applaud the Puerto Rican public health system and the good sense of the Puerto Rican population.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    … the good sense of the Puerto Rican population.

    Exactly why the Republicans will refuse PR statehood as long as inhumanly possible.

  2. moarscienceplz says

    “We should applaud the Puerto Rican public health system and the good sense of the Puerto Rican population.”
    Yes, we should. We should also do way more to embrace the fact that they are U.S. citizens and help them get more benefit from our economy. Forgiving ALL the debts of the Puerto Rican government would be a good start.

  3. says

    “Best I can tell, they’ve done this largely by not tying vaccines to politics…”

    Good luck doing that on the mainland. Yes, Democrats and progressive do this, but the pandemic and climate change were politicized by conservatives.

  4. prl says

    The Canberra (actually, for the statistics, the Australian Capital Territory), where I live, has just hit 90% of over-12s, and is heading for the high 90s (the partly+fully vaccinated rate is already over 95%).

    Possibly because of the high vaccination rates, the number of cases in the ACT has continued falling fairly consistently since we came out of lockdown last Friday (22 Oct) -- graph in article linked above.

    Nationally, Australia is slightly behind the Puerto Rico numbers: about 74% fully vaccinated, but that is currently increasing by a little over 1 percentage point/day.

    The only significant politicisation of the COVID vaccine in Australia has been criticism of the government for being slower than it should have been to start the vaccination program (it started in March this year), and of the initial planned reliance on AstraZeneca, though, to be fair, no-one knew about the blood clotting disorder side effects of the AZ vaccine at the time they made that decision. All state premiers and territory chief ministers (the relevant jurisdictions’ equivalent of prime minister) have been fully supportive of COVID vaccination.

  5. jrkrideau says

    I believe Puerto Rico also is mainly Spanish speaking. The Puerto Ricans probably are not as exposed to many of the mad English speaking antivaxers and politicians as many other people in the USA.

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