The US, UK, and Israel have all fallen far behind in the global vaccination race – the US now ranks 39th

Vermont covid-19 vaccine
An employee at the Vermont Creamery receives a COVID-19 vaccine from a National Guard soldier at a pop-up vaccination stand in Websterville, June 2021. Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

It’s been nearly nine months to the day since the US’s first COVID-19 vaccines went into arms.

Over the winter, the US, Israel, and the UK boasted the highest vaccination rates in the world. But all three have all fallen far behind in the global vaccination race since then.

The chart from Our World In Data, below, shows the 13 countries with the highest rates of fully vaccinated residents in the world, excluding China and Malta because of incomplete data. The US, Israel, and UK are added for comparison, but they don’t rank among the top 16.

Instead, the US’s vaccination rate currently ranks 39th in the world, according to data collected by the New York Times. Israel and the UK rank 29th and 17th, respectively.

Vaccination rate by country our world in data chart
A chart showing the percentage of the population that has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in 16 countries. The red arrow points the US. Our World In Data

Just 55% of Americans were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, though in terms of total shots administered, the US is second in the world, after China. As of Tuesday, the US had given out 387 million vaccine doses.

The UK and Israel’s vaccination rates are both around 65%, according to Our World In Data.

By contrast, Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, and Iceland – the top three spots – boast rates above 79%.

The pace of vaccinations plateaued in the US, UK, and Israel

Volunteer vaccine COVID
A volunteer passes out vaccination information at a pop-up center in Halifax, England on July 31, 2021. Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

After the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer and Moderna’s shots in December, the US got an early leg up in the global vaccination race. Israel, which purchased 15 million doses from Pfizer in the three months after the shots became available, also vaccinated its population quickly between December and March. And AstraZeneca’s vaccine, developed in the UK, was approved for emergency use there on December 30.

In mid-March, when the US, UK, and Israel were leading in inoculations, they had 3%, 13%, and 52% of their populations fully vaccinated, respectively.

But three months later, Israel’s vaccination rate had only ticked up to 59%. The US and UK had about 45% of their populations vaccinated – a big jump – by June 20, but by then, Chile and Aruba each had a vaccination rate above 50%.

In the three months since, Israel, the UK, and the US’s vaccination rates saw modest upticks, but at least a dozen countries – including Uruguay, Spain, and Denmark – have surpassed all three of them.

Vaccine hesitancy is beleaguering uptake in the US

Anti-vaccine protest
Anti-vaccine protesters hold signs outside of Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, June 26, 2021. MARK FELIX/AFP /AFP via Getty Images

Vaccine hesitancy in the US is playing an outsized role in hindering uptake. About one-quarter of Americans are unwilling to get vaccinated or uncertain if they will do so, according to a recent survey by Morning Consult.

Vaccine hesitancy in the UK is about half that, but a lack of uptake among residents under 30 is posing a problem – only 50% of the eligible UK population in that age bracket is fully vaccinated.

Israel faces a similar roadblock: As of last month, more than 1 million eligible Israelis between ages 12 and 20 had not gotten even one dose, according to NPR.

Meanwhile, all three have relatively high case rates – the US, UK, and Israel are seeing 290, 319, and 544 cases per 100,000 residents, respectively, according to Reuters data.

A masked woman wearing a purple shirt is getting vaccinated by a man in scrubs wearing a mask in front of an Israeli flag
A woman receives a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the Israeli city of Ramat HaSharon, July 30, 2021. AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

Compare that to countries that are farther ahead in the vaccination race. Portugal and Iceland, for example, each have 58 cases per 100,000 people – nearly one-tenth of Israel’s case rate.

As of earlier this month, the US ranked second in terms of vaccine hesitancy out of 15 high-income countries, behind only Russia. The percentage of Americans who are unwilling to get vaccinated has slowly decreased in the last six months, but vaccine hesitancy dropped about twice as fast, on average, in the 14 other countries included in the Morning Consult survey.