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COVID vaccination rates vary widely across the Region, higher in more affluent areas

COVID vaccination rates vary widely across the Region, higher in more affluent areas

Indiana has fully vaccinated more than 1 million Hoosiers against the coronavirus and given more than 1.5 million initial doses of the vaccine, which requires a booster shot a few weeks later.

But newly released Indiana Department of Health data show there's a wide disparity in the demographics of who's getting vaccinated. Data reflecting COVID-19 vaccines administered by ZIP code show that more people have been getting vaccinated in more affluent suburban areas in Northwest Indiana, while vaccination rates are much lower in less well-off and more diverse urban areas.

Beverly Shores, a tony beachfront town along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Porter County, leads the state with 79.4% of its residents getting at least the first dose of the vaccine, according to Indiana Department of Health data. A total of 390 people of the 491 residents older than 16 in the 46301 ZIP code have gotten the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The town by the Indiana Dunes National Park has a population that's 69% older than the state as a whole, with more than 53% of households with an income over $100,000, according to U.S. Census data. Zillow estimates the median home price in Beverly Shores is $282,810.

Munster, where 42% of households make at least $100,000 a year and the median age is 18% higher than the rest of Indiana, had the second-highest vaccination rate in the Region. About 41.4% of Munster residents have gotten the first shot.

"There are many potential reasons why one community might have lower vaccination rates than another," said Micah Pollak, Indiana University Northwest associate professor of economics. "Since vaccination eligibility was rolled out by age, communities with a younger population have had less eligibility than those with older populations and, necessarily, lower vaccination rates. Vaccine uptake has been lower among minorities. Communities that have a higher proportion of their population that is Hispanic or black may have lower vaccination rates as a result."

In Northwest Indiana, more than 30% of residents have gotten the initial shot in Beverly Shores, Munster, Chesterton, Crown Point, Dyer, Highland, LaPorte, Michigan City, St. John, Schererville and Valparaiso, according to Indiana Department of Health data that was most recently updated Friday. Vaccination rates are much lower in cities in north Lake County.

An estimated 14.7% of East Chicago residents have received the first dose of the vaccine. In Hammond, the vaccination rate varies between 16.1% and 18.3%. In Gary, between 11.6% and 15.9% of residents have gotten the first shot in ZIP codes that roughly align with the downtown, midtown, Tolleston and Glen Park neighborhoods. The lakefront Miller neighborhood has the highest vaccination rate in the city with 19.9% of Miller residents having gotten at least the first shot.

Pollak said access to vaccination sites also has been a huge determinant of who's getting the vaccine.

"While there is no cost for the vaccine, you will likely still need to take time off work and have transportation to the nearest vaccination site to be vaccinated," he said. "In communities with higher poverty rates or a larger proportion of the population working in jobs that provide little flexibility in hours (particularly minimum wage service jobs), fewer people will be able to afford getting vaccinated."

The state of Indiana has been trying different approaches of encouraging more people to get vaccinated in communities that lag behind, such as by sending text messages to tell people when a clinic has opened near them. Nonprofits like the Legacy Foundation also have been doing targeted outreach.

"The state has been doing a great job watching for areas where vaccination rates are lagging and then working with the local communities to find ways to increase vaccination rates. This could be things like hosting more mass vaccination events or mobile vaccination clinics," Pollak said. "These outreach efforts will take time but will also make a big difference. I think communities working closely with the state health department to identify why they are experiencing lower vaccination rates and then designing a plan to address that specific reason is the most effective way to raising vaccination rates."

Here's a look at how many people in Northwest Indiana have gotten at least the first coronavirus vaccine shot by ZIP code:

Beverly Shores 46301

People: 390

Percent of population: 79.4%

Cedar Lake 46303

People: 3,207

Percent of population: 28%

Chesterton 46304

People: 6,837

Percent of population: 33.7%

Crown Point 46307

People: 17,375

Percent of population: 34.4%

Dyer 46311

People: 5,828

Percent of population: 33%

East Chicago 46312

People: 3,104

Percent of population: 14.7%

Gary 46402

People: 568

Percent of population: 11.6%

Gary Miller neighborhood 46403

People: 2,182

Percent of population: 19.9%

Gary Tolleston neighborhood 46404

People: 2,177

Percent of population: 15.9%

Gary Midtown neighborhood 46407

People: 1,049

Percent of population: 12.2%

Gary Glen Park neighborhood 46409

People: 674

Percent of population: 11.6%

Griffith 46319

People 3,330

Percent of population: 23.1%

Hammond 46320

People: 1,903

Percent of population: 18.3%

Hammond Hessville 46323

People: 2,814

Percent of population: 16.1%

Hammond southwest side 46324

People: 2,890

Percent of population: 17.4%

Hebron 46341

People: 2,032

Percent of population: 25.3%

Highland 46322

People: 5,727

Percent of population: 30.8%

Hobart 46342

People: 6,536

Percent of population: 27%

LaPorte 46350

People: 10,833

Percent of population: 31.7%

Merrillville 46410

People: 7,314

Percent of population: 24.5%

Michigan City 46360

People: 10,272

Percent of population: 34.4%

Munster 46321

People: 7,680

Percent of population: 41.4%

Portage 46368

People: 7,722

Percent of population: 24.6%

St. John 46373

People: 4,745

Percent of population: 36.9%

Schererville 46375

People: 6,817

Percent of population: 34.3%

Valparaiso east side 46383

People: 10,700

Percent of population: 30.8%

Valparaiso west side 46385

People: 10,828

Percent of population: 34.6%

Whiting 46394

People: 2,237

Percent of population: 21.6%

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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