The Nation’s Attention Turns Towards Rural America as Concerns with COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Rise

Large urban hospitals are rushing to buy expensive ultra-cold freezers to store what’s likely to be the first approved COVID-19 vaccine. But most rural hospitals can’t afford these high-end units, meaning health workers and residents in those communities may have difficulty getting the vaccines. “Hundreds of rural, small towns all across the U.S. have a higher percentage of elderly, low-income [residents], a higher percentage of the community with multiple chronic health issues,” says NRHA CEO Alan Morgan. “In this financial environment, you can imagine that there is simply no consideration of rural hospitals purchasing storage equipment for this ultra-cold distribution.” In an interview that aired on CBS This Morning, NRHA member Tim Size spoke to the need for equitable vaccine access in rural America. He stated, “If, basically, rural is getting the message, ‘We will start with urban,’ even it is for reasonable logistical reasons, it’s bad optics. I don’t think anybody wants to give the message that rural America, rural Wisconsin is second-class.”