Low vaccination equals higher deaths in Michigan counties

People in the lowest vaccinated counties are twice as likely to die of COVID as their more vaccinated neighbors.

Michigan counties with the lowest rates of vaccinations also have death rates twice as high as those with the highest vaccination rates. That’s according to an analysis conducted by MLive.

The analysis looked at mortality and vaccination data between August 1 and October 6. In that time, the state reported 1,301 deaths attributable to COVID-19.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

A weekday morning email roundup of Kalamazoo stories and events.

In the ten counties with the lowest vaccination rates, there were 16.9 COVID deaths per 100,000 people. The ten most vaccinated counties had much lower COVID death rates – 8.2 deaths per 100,000 people.

“It’s not surprising,” said University of Michigan Epidemiologist Josh Petrie. “And that’s just looking at a county level. If you were looking at an individual level, you’d see an even bigger effect of the vaccines.”

Nationwide, unvaccinated individuals are 11 times more likely to die as a result of a COVID-19 infection as someone who is vaccinated.

Several of those least-vaccinated counties are near Kalamazoo County. Cass, St. Joseph, and Branch counties all border Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo itself is near the top of the heap with 56% of its population fully vaccinated.


Independent journalism is essential to a healthy democracy. Make a donation today.