Rural states with early vaccine success hit a wall

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When COVID-19 vaccines rolled out earlier this year, Alaska, West Virginia and several other rural states quickly jumped ahead of the pack, vaccinating residents at rates that outpaced other states. Those less populous states outhustled bigger ones using innovative distribution schemes such as flying vaccines on small airplanes to remote areas, tapping into existing rural health systems and eschewing the county-by-county model that slowed larger states’ distribution. During that period, Alaska’s rural doctors were hailed as heroes. In February, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, cro…

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