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Puerto Rico Becomes the Most Vaccinated Place in America

A member of a scientific consortium advising Puerto Rico government on the coronavirus pandemic recently made light of the island’s high Covid-19 immunization rate, blaming it on the island’s abundance of drug store chains. Unfortunately, Irizzary was only half-joking when he mentioned immunization rates and Puerto Rico 100 Walgreens locations. In recent years, the Caribbean island has secretly managed to beat even New England states with the highest immunization rates in the US, despite being hit by devastating storms, earthquakes, political turmoil, and debt.

Rafael Irizarry, a professor of biostatistics at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said, “There is a Walgreens on like every corner. Everywhere you go, they have everything you need. Rum. Coffee. You get your fireworks and then you go get a vaccine.” These disasters and collective suffering have prepared Puerto Rico government, the scientific community, and the medical community. There was a sense of impending doom.

Many of the folks I’ve worked with have said to me, “Not on my watch.” That won’t happen again. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Puerto Rico has fully immunized slightly over 73 percent of its 3.3 million citizens. This equates to over 2.3 million people. With 154,563 total vaccine doses administered per 100,000 individuals, the island has the highest rate of total vaccine doses delivered. According to the CDC, it has given out 4.9 million doses as of Friday.

According to the CDC, Vermont leads the mainland with 70.8 percent of the population fully vaccinated, followed by Connecticut (70.2 percent) and Maine (70%), with just over 57 percent of the overall US population fully vaccinated as of Friday. Puerto Rico is not only poor in comparison to much of the mainland, but it also has a population larger than 21 states, according to Jha. He wrote that it’s around “5 times larger” than Vermont.

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