Only about 3% of veterans are turning down COVID-19 vaccines, a figure lower than Veterans Affairs officials expected, Stars and Stripes reported. The figure is higher in some rural areas.

“We were worried we’d see more vaccine hesitancy and disparities across different groups, and we’re pleasantly surprised we’re not seeing that in large part, at least so far,” said Dr. Ernes Moy, executive director of the VA Office of Health Equity.

The VA had vaccinated about 1.9 million people as of Thursday. About 45% of VA patients over the age of 75 had been fully vaccinated. Half of all Black and Hispanic veterans in that same age group have been vaccinated.

“We continue to see higher rates of vaccination among Black and Hispanic veterans than among white veterans,” Moy said. “We are concerned about rural rates – that seems to be the biggest disparity that’s out there that we need to address.”

Moy said some of the hesitancy in rural areas is because patients don’t want to travel to a distant VA facility to get a shot. VA officials expect more white and rural veterans will get vaccinated as more supply is available in their communities.

Army National Guard photo by Spc. Emily Simonson

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