In a new story from NPR, writer Kirk Siegler reports on senior citizens, who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, trying to orient themselves in their rural communities, where the majority of the population is usually unvaccinated. As the pandemic became politicized, so too did vaccines, and for many rural seniors, the memories of diseases in decades past are haunting reminders of why vaccines are still so important.

From the story: “So taking precautions and living carefully throughout 2020 until the COVID vaccines became available was not a big deal, Loennig says. Back when she was a girl quarantines were strictly enforced by health authorities. For most people, it was a fact of life.

“They did not have this anger that just seems to overwhelm,” Loennig says. “Somehow we have to get at the root of that anger if we are going to face — and we will face — future episodes of this kind.”

For now, Baker City seniors like Loennig are kind of on an island, still moving cautiously, avoiding the unvaccinated as much as they can. Only about 45% of the 16,000 people in this county have gotten both shots.

But among the 70 and up demographic, it’s 25 points higher.

This mirrors a trend across rural America where overall COVID vaccination rates continue to lag about 10% lower than in cities. Yet seniors in rural areas tend to be a holdout with vaccination rates higher than the national average. In towns like Baker City, many are eager to get their boosters as the shots become more widely available this week.”

To read the rest of the story on NPR, click here.