Feb 2, 2021 - Health

CDC: Vaccine database on race and ethnicity paints incomplete picture

Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Race and ethnicity data were spotty during the first month of coronavirus vaccinations, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: Collecting accurate demographic data will become more important as vaccines become available to the general public, where the pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on Black and Hispanic Americans.

By the numbers: No demographic data was available for about half of the initial vaccinations, and the CDC cautioned against drawing firm conclusions from the data that were available.

  • Many of the demographic data from the first month of vaccinations mirror the demographics of the two groups eligible for those initial vaccines — health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
  • Vaccine recipients in the first month were mostly female, and 40% were non-white. Roughly 13% of the health care workforce is Hispanic, according to the CDC — as were 12% of the people vaccinated in the first month.
  • Black Americans appear to be under-represented, relative to their share of the health care workforce and long-term care population — but people checking the "other" box were dramatically over-represented, making it hard to reach broad conclusions, the CDC said.

What's next: The Biden administration has included race and ethnicity in new reporting requirements, and that will be key to tracking America's progress — or lack of progress — on racial disparities.

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