While there is evidence of urban/rural disparities in COVID-19 vaccination coverage, there is limited data on the influence of other place-based variables. In this cross-sectional study, we analyzed population-based linked administrative health data (publicly-funded health insurance database and province-wide immunization repository) to examine vaccination coverage for 3,945,103 residents aged 12 years and above in Alberta, Canada.
We used multilevel logistic regression to examine the association of vaccination coverage with various place-based variables. Furthermore, we combined information on vaccine coverage and neighborhood level COVID-19 risk to categorize forward sortation areas (FSAs) into six categories.
After 4 months of widely available COVID-19 vaccine, coverage varied widely between rural and urban areas (58% to 73%) and between geographic health authority zones (55.8% to 72.8%). Residents living in neighborhoods with lower COVID-19 disease incidence had the lowest vaccination coverage (63.2%), while coverage in higher incidence neighborhoods ranged from 68.3% to 71.9%. The multilevel logistic regression model indicated that residence in metro (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.37; 95% CI: 1.31–1.42) and urban areas (aOR 1.11; 95% CI: 1.08–1.14) was associated with higher vaccine coverage than residence in rural areas.
Similarly, residence in Edmonton, Calgary, and South health zones was associated with higher vaccine coverage compared to residence in Central zone. Higher income neighborhoods reported higher vaccine coverage than the lowest-income neighborhoods, and the highest COVID-19 risk neighborhoods reported higher vaccine coverage than the lowest risk neighborhoods (aOR 1.52; 95% CI: 1.12–2.05). In the first four months of wider vaccine availability in Alberta, COVID-19 vaccine coverage varied according to various place-based characteristics. Vaccine distribution strategies need to consider place-based variables for program prioritization and delivery.