Pa. vax rates fall mostly along party lines, with some interesting exceptions

Pennsylvania Politics

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The party of the state senator who represents Pennsylvania’s least-vaccinated district? Republican — perhaps no surprise, considering widespread reports about national vaccination rate disparities between Republicans and Democrats. (Republican Judy Ward, more precisely, a reliable opponent of mask mandates; the district is 36 percent fully vaccinated.)

But the party of the state senator who represents Pennsylvania’s most-vaccinated district? Republican too — in that case Devlin Robinson of the Pittsburgh area. In his district, 66 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.

Why?

“Well he’s right there with UPMC,” said State Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), whose district ranks 39 out of 50 for fully-vaccinated residents, based on Pennsylvania Department of Health data. “A lot of medical professionals. A lot of facilities. A lot of access” to vaccines.

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Phillips-Hill’s point? Political party affiliation doesn’t fully explain vaccination rates.

And she noted that vaccination rates among the smaller state house districts within her senate district are exactly the opposite of what conventional political vaccination wisdom might predict: Only one of those house districts is represented by a Democrat, and it is the least-vaccinated house district within her senate district.

That district, represented by State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans (D-York), includes York city and Spring Garden Township. Phillips-Hill said that highlights the challenge of reaching residents in some of the most urban areas, in addition to hesitation and access issues in some of the most rural areas.

Among house districts, the most vaccinated — in the Pittsburgh suburbs — is represented by Dan Miller, a Democrat. In that district, 69 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. The least vaccinated (29.3 percent) — including Fulton County and parts of Franklin and Bedford Counties — is represented by Jesse Topper, a Republican.

Generally, overlaying maps of the state and house districts and vaccination rates reveal the more vaccinated districts tend to have Democratic state senators and representatives.

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