Guys may need extra nudges to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Nearly six out of every 10 fully vaccinated people in Illinois are women, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s vaccination website. The numbers vary only slightly for individual counties, especially those in the state’s east-central region.
National statistics offer hope that the gender disparity will dissipate as more Americans schedule and follow through with vaccinations. Sixty-nine percent of U.S. adults say they either intend to get vaccinated, or have already done so, a survey this month from the Pew Research Center shows. That marks an increase since November, when 60% of Americans said they would get vaccinated.
The number of doses administered so far — 5,577,614 — is rising steadily. Those totals include doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require two doses, and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a single-dose medication.
Still, the state has not yet seen a sizeable increase in the percentage of men getting vaccination, compared to women.
The disparity is stark. Figures from the state show a significant disparity among the genders getting their COVID-19 vaccinations, so far.
As of Monday, 58% of those vaccinated were women, leaving men at around 42% mark. That tracks closed to national numbers, which show 59% of fully vaccinated Americans are women.
There are explanations beyond simply concluding that a large segment of men are refusing to get vaccinated, although that is one reason for the lopsided turnout.
Public health officials prioritized older people — who are more likely to be hospitalized or die from a COVID-19 infection — through the state’s age-based vaccination distribution plan. Women live five years longer, on average, than men, so a greater percentage of women were in the priority pool for the initial vaccinations.
Pew polls also show older Americans — which include more women — are more inclined to get vaccinated than younger age groups, which have closer gender numbers.
Statistically, there also is a reluctance toward preventive health care measures by men. Seventy-two percent of men said they would rather clean the bathroom, mow the lawn or do some other home chores than go to the doctor, a survey by the nonprofit Cleveland Clinic in Ohio showed.
Sadly, politics has influenced vaccination rates, too. Fifty-six percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents had been or intended to get vaccinated, compared to 83% of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents, according to Pew’s February survey.
Coronavirus, unfortunately, does not dodge men because they have tidied up a restroom or voted for a particular party. Of Illinois’ 21,256 deaths from COVID-19, a majority were men — 11,491 — while 9,765 were women.
Vaccinations are not about politics or gender. The protection provided by the medicines benefits not only the persons vaccinated, but also their community, state, nation and world. Vaccinations, paired with the wise public health practices, are our best chance to finally get this coronavirus under control and life back to normal. Vaccinations are opening up to a higher number of residents of all ages as time goes on.
So when the opportunity arises, sign up and get vaccinated, everybody.
A version of this editorial first appeared in the Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind. It has been adapted for use in the Commercial-News.