Since late October, public figures and the national press have turned to Puerto Rico as a success story in the COVID-19 pandemic. NPR ran a segment on Oct. 25 that reported Puerto Rico had the highest vaccination rate of any U.S. state or territory, and former President Bill Clinton tweeted out an article the next day that made the same claim.
Several days later, other national media outlets like ABC News and Time Magazine wrote about what has made Puerto Rico’s vaccine rollout so successful — honing in on how the vaccine was not politicized on the island territory to the extent it has been on the U.S. mainland.
Does the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico have the highest vaccination rate in the country?
Yes. Puerto Rico has the highest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the country with one of the lowest community transmission rates.
WHAT WE FOUND
As of Nov. 10, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data shows 73.9% of Puerto Rico’s total population has been fully vaccinated, the highest of any state or territory in the United States. Guam at 72.4% and Vermont at 71.8% have the next highest two vaccination rates, and there are four other states, plus an associate government, with vaccination rates higher than 70%.
Data from Puerto Rico’s Department of Health shows a slightly lower vaccination rate at 70.5%. However, the difference is consistent with the differences between CDC data and data in other states and territories. Puerto Rico still has the highest vaccination rate in the country when comparing data from state departments of health alone.
Puerto Rico’s Department of Health says just over 81% of the territory’s population aged 12 and over has been fully vaccinated, and more than 89% of the 12 and over population has received at least one dose. The territory doesn’t yet have data for vaccinations among children 5 to 11, who just became eligible for vaccinations Oct. 29.
The population Puerto Rico has to vaccinate is comparable to that of many states, as well. Census Bureau data show Puerto Rico would be the 30th largest state by population if it was granted full statehood at just over 3 million people. It has more people than Utah and Iowa, and slightly fewer people than Connecticut.