COVID-19 vaccines
(Mongkolchon Akesin/Shutterstock)

Nearly Half of US Vaccine Records Lack Crucial Data on Recipient Race

With racial disparities in the distribution of the currently approved COVID-19 vaccines already being a known problem, a new issue has also arisen in the fight against the coronavirus: lack of accurate vaccination data. Akilah Johnson from The Washington Post has reported that “Race and ethnicity data was missing for nearly half of all coronavirus vaccine recipients during the first month shots were available, further stymieing efforts to ensure an equitable response to a pandemic that continues to unduly burden communities of color.” 

On Monday, Feb. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report — the nation’s most accurate picture of health and wellness within the country. This week’s report focused on the period from Dec. 14 to Jan. 14, which was the first full month of COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the U.S. While the period was obviously chaotic, the data also revealed that just days into the new program, health administrators were already having serious issues keeping track of those who have already gotten a vaccination shot and accurately tracking their demographic data.

Of the information that was available, the report showed that “63% of the nearly 13 million people vaccinated in that period were women, 55% were older than 50, and 60.4% were white.” But Johnson added, “race and ethnicity information was missing for about 48% of people who received at least one dose of the vaccine. About 14% of those who received at least one shot nationally were categorized as multiple or other race/ethnicity, 11.5% as Latino, 6% as Asian, and 5% Black.”

In an administration news briefing, Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of President Biden’s COVID-19 equity task force, acknowledged the issue, telling reporters she was worried about how behind they were and emphasizing that “We cannot ensure an equitable vaccination program without data to guide us.”

While vaccination data may be missing, we do know that “the disease has spread through communities of color at higher rates, exposing the structural racism and inequality baked into the American health system that experts say has resulted in the virus’s disparate toll,” Johnson said. She added that “For nearly a year, health equity experts and lawmakers have called for better data tracking to shed light on disproportionate rates of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.”

Based on the data that health officials have been able to collect during the pandemic, we also know that “Black, Latino and Native American/Alaska Native people are up to 3.6 times more likely than White people to be hospitalized from COVID-19, while people in communities of color are more than twice as likely to die as White people from the disease,” Nunez-Smith said. She blamed these higher hospitalization rates and deaths on a combination of environmental, economic and political factors, as well as inadequate testing across the country.

In an interview with Johnson, Vanderbilt University professor Derek M. Griffith, an expert on racial and gender health disparities, said “this pattern of race and ethnicity is pretty predictable.” He explained that even those states are supposedly giving all citizens an equal shot at getting vaccinated, impoverished communities and those who are actually at the greatest risk often have a harder time accessing these opportunities and ultimately end up being left out or excluded.

“We must address these insufficient data points as an urgent priority,” Nunez-Smith concluded. “They don’t just hurt our statistics, they hurt the community.”

 

 

D.I. Fast Facts

26.4 million

Current number of COVID-19 infections in the U.S., as of Feb. 2, 2021
The New York Times

 

443,000

Current number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., as of Feb. 2, 2021
The New York Times

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

Latest News

Tishaura Jones

Tishaura Jones Becomes Mayor of St. Louis, Joins Growing Number of Black Female Mayors Leading a Major American City

More and more Black women are becoming mayors of large American cities. Tishaura Jones has become the latest in a string of recent women candidates advancing to the top of city leadership. With her win on April 6, Jones becomes the first-ever Black woman mayor of St. Louis. Formerly the…

LinkedIn

Data From 500 Million LinkedIn Accounts Hacked and Put Up for Sale on the Dark Web

In a blow to businesspeople of all levels and industries, the career and business networking site LinkedIn confirmed that data “scraped” from approximately 500 million profiles has been archived by hackers and is being sold on the dark web. The site has approximately 675 million members, meaning that data from…

Abraham Lincoln High School

San Francisco School Board Forced to Abandon Controversial Plan to Rename Schools Honoring Historic Figures

The San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education drew nationwide attention earlier this year over its announcement to change the name of 44 schools “named after figures with disputed historical relevance.” And now, following widespread public condemnation and a vote of members, the board has decided it will no…

Park Cannon

Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Park Cannon, Georgia Representative Arrested For Protesting State’s New Racist Voter Restriction Laws

Reaction to Georgia’s restrictive and anti-Black voter disenfranchisement policies continues to stir up controversy. Major League Baseball pulled their wildly popular 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta and moved it to Denver to show their disappointment with the decision. Georgia-based companies like Delta and Coca-Cola have also announced their disapproval of…

Dow Receives Five 2021 Manufacturing Leadership Awards

Originally published at corporate.dow.com. Dow ranked No. 22 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020.   Dow has been recognized with five Manufacturing Leadership Awards by the Manufacturing Leadership Council, a division of the National Association of Manufacturers. The awards are given to individuals and projects…

Dow Wins With Product Performance and Sustainability at the Leading 2021 Ringier Technology Innovation Awards

Originally published at corporate.dow.com. Dow ranked No. 22 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020.   Dow clinched two notable product wins for superior performance and wide application at the 2021 Ringier Technology Innovation Awards in the Plastics Raw Materials & Additives category: Dow’s Post-Consumer Recycled…