Open spaces, no pharmacies: rural US confronts vaccine void

Coronavirus

Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Portage, Mich., Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool)

SURRY, Va. (AP) – Getting a COVID-19 vaccine has been a challenge for residents of rural U.S. counties without a pharmacy or a well-equipped clinic.

People in Virginia’s Surry County drove up to an hour away before local officials pressured the state to start delivering doses. So-called “pharmacy deserts” highlight a health care disparity that’s become even more stark during the pandemic. More than 400 rural counties lack a pharmacy that’s partnering with the federal government to administer vaccine shots.

And hurdles to obtaining a vaccine aren’t limited to rural areas. One study identified 94 counties where Black residents were more likely than white residents to have to travel more than 10 miles to reach a potential vaccination site.

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. Material may not be redistributed.

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