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Some rural counties in Northern California are falling further behind in COVID-19 vaccination rates compared with the rest of the state, causing cases to remain flat or, in some cases, to rise.

A Times analysis found that the counties with the lowest vaccination rates were likely to have higher recent case rates per capita. Counties in rural Northern California and the greater Sacramento area fared worst, while Southern California and the Bay Area have fared best in terms of higher rates of vaccination and lower daily case rates, the analysis found.

Health officials in some of the rural areas with low rates of vaccination said they are battling reluctance on the part of residents to get the shot, which leaves a greater percentage of the population exposed to the coronavirus than in more urban parts of California, where cases continue to plummet.

“COVID is still here and is still pretty prevalent in our community,” said Kerri Schuette, public information officer for the Health and Human Services Agency of Shasta County, where only 36% of residents have received at least one dose. “And that’s especially concerning in a county that doesn’t have a very high vaccination rate, so there are a lot of people who are vulnerable still.”

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