General Geographic Information Systems

The Intersect: Vaccination, Education, and Household Income

This poster can also be viewed via PowerPoint at the the link at the end of this post!

Introduction

In recent weeks, discussions surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic in New Jersey have turned from infection rates to vaccination goals, with increasing focus on reaching a benchmark of 70% of  the eligible population receiving at least one dose.  Unfortunately, trends are now showing a sharp decrease in vaccinations administered, trending towards falling short of that benchmark.  This assignment looks at the correlation between vaccination rates, education levels, and household income in New Jersey.

Data

The data compiled came from three sources.  In Figure 1, the map and legend were provided by the New Jersey Department of Health to track the progression towards the 70% vaccination herd immunity threshold (New Jersey Department of Health, 2021).  To determine any correlations between vaccination levels and income or education level, Figure 2 and Figure 3 were created to examine the median household income and highest education level achieved, respectively, of New Jersey Residents.  Both are data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau (2017; 2019).

Methods

Before building maps, I reviewed a few articles discussing a distressing decrease in vaccination administration across the U.S..  An article in Nature discusses the multifaceted ways that herd immunity may never be realized, including vaccine hesitancy, resistance, and access (Aschwanden, 2021).  In an article in the International Journal of Epidemiology, Peruvian researchers hypothesize that there is a direct relationship between education level and incidence of Covid infection, providing startling data that the number of deaths of individuals with a lower level of education tripled in 2020 from 200 to 600 daily, while deaths of individuals with a higher level of education only doubled from 100 to 200 (Jung, J. et al., 2020).

Results

Figure 1:
Figure 1 is map data provided by the New Jersey Department of Health, updated daily to reflect the percentage of individuals who have completed a full course of vaccination from any of the three available manufacturers.  The data includes all eligible vaccine age groups.  The areas with the lowest percent of fully vaccinated individuals are in the lightest colored areas, which correlate with graphs below.
Figures 2 (left) and 3 (right):
Figure 2 represents the median household income for New Jersey as of 2019, with several of the lower income areas corresponding to several of the lowest vaccination percentages from the NJ DOH data presented in Figure 1.

Figure 3 represents the highest level of education completed for residents aged 18 and older, with many of the areas with the lowest level of education obtained corresponding to several of the lowest vaccination percentages from the NJ DOH data presented in Figure 1.

With my preliminary research, I did see a correlation between the lowest income households, lower education levels, and lower percentage of fully vaccinated populations.  For example, in Walpack Township, Sussex County, the median household income is only $80,000, residents primarily hold High school diplomas, and only 15% of people 18 and older are fully vaccinated.  Alternatively, in Chatham Township, Morris County, the median household income is over $200,000, residents primarily hold bachelor’s degrees, and 87% of people 18 and older are fully vaccinated.

Conclusions

While the death toll of Covid-19 continues to rise, disproportionately affecting individuals in poorer communities more than any other demographic (Concepcion-Zavaleta, M, et al.; 2020), further study is needed to analyze all of the complex factors that affect Covid infection and vaccine resistance.  One thing is certainly clear, though: the parallels between vaccination, education, and household income are important considerations to be studied.

Bibliography

  • Aschwanden, C., 2021. Why Heard Immunity for Covid is Probably Impossible. Nature, 25 March, Volume 591, pp. 520-522.
  • Concepcion-Zavaleta, M. J., Coronado-Arroyo, J. C., Zavaleta-Gutierrez, F. E. & Concepcion-Urteaga, L. A., 2020. Does level of education influence mortality of SARS-CoV-2 in a developing country? International Journal of Epidemiology, pp. 1-3.
  • Jung, J., Manley, J. & Shrestha, V., 2020. Coronavirus infections and deaths by poverty status: The effects of social distancing. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Volume 182, pp. 311-330.
  • New Jersey Department of Health, 2021. New Jersey Covid 19 Vaccination Overview. [Online]
    Available at: https://njhealth.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=50c2c6af93364b4da9c0bf6327c04b45
  • U.S. Census Bureau, 2017. Education in the USA, s.l.: s.n.
  • U.S. Census Bureau, 2019. NJ Median Household Income, s.l.: s.n.

The link to the poster can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zt6eD4qRm5AbXVwMS1sbq4C4NkMTFjbp/view?usp=sharing

This assignments meets the midterm requirements of ESS302, Drew University, Spring 2021.

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