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More Women Are Getting The Coronavirus Vaccine Than Men

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

As vaccines become more widely available in the United States, we're getting a clearer picture of who is getting the shots and who is not. And there appears to be a persistent gap between men and women. Even though more men are dying from COVID-19, fewer of them are getting vaccinated. That's according to a new report from Kaiser Health News. And their reporter Laura Ungar is with us now to talk about it. Welcome to the program.

LAURA UNGAR: Oh, thanks for having me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let's start with these numbers. How big is this gap?

UNGAR: So the gap nears 60-40 with women being near 60%, men near 40%. And it could be a little bit less. So there's 58% women or 57% women. But that's generally the breakdown across the states that track that online.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Has it been persistent throughout the campaign? I mean, is it changing as more people get vaccinated?

UNGAR: It is changing some. But it remains. It does not disappear. So as the vaccine has rolled out, it has narrowed in the states that have looked at it over time. Not all states do look at it over time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. So is there any geographic variation greater in some states than others?

UNGAR: You know, it's interesting. I looked at 37 states and D.C. And there really didn't seem to be much of a geographic difference. It was about the same across all the states that I looked at.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So at the beginning of the vaccine rollout, health care workers and teachers were the first to get their doses, right? Those two fields have large numbers of women working in them. So I guess the question is, did women get a kind of head start?

UNGAR: Yeah, demographics play a big part here because women live longer as well. So among the senior citizen group, women were more likely to get the vaccine early. And then women make up about three-quarters of teachers and about three-quarters of health care workers.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. So talk to me a little bit then about why this is happening in your view, apart from possibly the head start, women living longer. But is there something else that is different between women and men that leads to this kind of disparity?

UNGAR: Yes, the experts I spoke with talked about the fact that women are more likely to seek preventive care in general. So that is an issue here. And then also, women are more likely to take on the role of arranging health care for the family. So they may be more able to kind of navigate the health system.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And do you see a difference between age groups? I mean, is this true for older men but perhaps not younger men who might be more technologically savvy?

UNGAR: No, it persists across age groups in the states that do track age and gender. So it's not just among senior citizens. It's among age groups across the board.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There's been a lot of vaccine hesitancy among conservative men. But it sounds like what you're talking about is more than just about ideology. What needs to be addressed to get more men vaccinated?

UNGAR: Well, I think kind of going back to this issue of getting preventive care and kind of taking responsibility for getting health care, research has shown that men's desire to kind of be strong and their role in society does play a part in whether or not they get preventive care and whether or not they are getting the shots. But that message needs to get out that men need to kind of, you know, take it upon themselves to go out and get their vaccines and to make the effort that they need to make to get it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Laura Ungar is a reporter with Kaiser Health News. Thank you very much.

UNGAR: You're welcome. Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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