Kaiser Family Foundation
Published: Aug 04, 2021
As of this week, 70% of the adult population in the United States have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. While this progress represents a marked achievement in vaccinations that has led to steep declines in COVID-19 cases and deaths, vaccination coverage—and the protections provided by it—remains uneven across the country. With the growing spread of the more transmissible Delta variant, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are once again rising, largely among unvaccinated people. While White adults account for the largest share (57%) of unvaccinated adults, Black and Hispanic people remain less likely than their White counterparts to have received a vaccine, leaving them at increased risk, particularly as the variant spreads.
Reaching high vaccination rates across individuals and communities will be key for achieving broad protection through a vaccine, mitigating the disproportionate impacts of the virus for people of color, and preventing widening racial health disparities going forward. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that vaccine equity is an important goal and defined equity as preferential access and administration to those who have been most affected by COVID-19.
The CDC reports demographic characteristics, including race/ethnicity, of people receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at the national level. As of August 2, 2021, CDC reported that race/ethnicity was known for 58% of people who had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Among this group, nearly two thirds were White (59%), 10% were Black, 16% were Hispanic, 6% were Asian, 1% were American Indian or Alaska Native, and <1% were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, while 8% reported multiple or other race. However, CDC data also show that recent vaccinations are reaching larger shares of Hispanic, Asian, and Black populations compared to overall vaccinations. Twenty-six percent of vaccines administered in the past 14 days have gone to Hispanic people, 4% to Asian people, and 15% to Black people (Figure 1). These recent patterns suggest a narrowing of racial gaps in vaccinations at the national level, particularly for Hispanic and Black people, who account for a larger share of recent vaccinations compared to their share of the total population (26% vs. 17% and 15% vs. 12%, respectively). While these data provide helpful insights at a national level, to date, CDC is not publicly reporting state-level data on the racial/ethnic composition of people vaccinated.
Figure 1: Race/Ethnicity of People Receiving a COVID-19 Vaccine in the U.S. as of August 2, 2021
To provide greater insight into who is receiving the vaccine and racial/ethnic disparities in vaccination, KFF is collecting and analyzing state-reported data on COVID-19 vaccinations by race/ethnicity. As of August 2, 2021, 46 states and Washington D.C. were reporting vaccination data by race/ethnicity. This analysis examines how the vaccinations have been distributed by race/ethnicity and the share of the total population vaccinated by race/ethnicity. It also assesses trends in these data since March 1.
Distribution of Vaccinations by Race/Ethnicity
Figure 2 shows the shares of COVID-19 vaccinations, cases, and deaths among Black, Hispanic, Asian, and White people. The data also show the distribution of the total population by these groups as of 2019. Data are not presented for other groups due to data limitations. Together these data show:
As observed in prior weeks, Black and Hispanic people have received smaller shares of vaccinations compared to their shares of cases and compared to their shares of the total population in most states. The share of vaccinations received by Black people also continues to be smaller than their share of deaths in most states, although in some states it is similar to the share of deaths. The share of vaccinations received by Hispanic people is similar to or higher than their share of deaths in most reporting states, although in some states it continues to be lower. For example, in California, 30% of vaccinations have gone to Hispanic people, while they account for 63% of cases, 48% of deaths, and 40% of the total population in the state. Similarly, in the District of Columbia, Black people have received 43% of vaccinations, while they make up 56% of cases, 71% of deaths, and 46% of the total population. The size of these differences varies across states. The number of states where the shares of vaccinations received by Black and Hispanic people are more proportionate to their shares of the total population and/or their shares of cases or deaths in the state has grown over time.
In most states, the share of vaccinations among Asian people was similar to or higher than their share of cases, deaths, and total population, although, in a few states, it was lower. In Vermont, 2% of vaccinations have been received by Asian people, while they have accounted for 4% of cases. The share of vaccinations among Asian people was similar to or higher than their share of the total population in most states, except South Dakota and Pennsylvania, where it was lower. In Hawaii, 53% of vaccinations have been received by Asian people, which is higher than their share of the total population (40%), but closer to their share of cases and deaths (both at 48%).
White people received a higher share of vaccinations compared to their share of cases in most states reporting data. In about half of reporting states they received a higher share of vaccinations compared to their shares of deaths and total population, while in other states it was similar or lower. For example, in Colorado, 76% of vaccinations were received by White people, while they make up 68% of the population. In Tennessee, 65% of vaccinations have been received by White people, which is lower than their share of cases (71%), deaths (78%), and their share of the population (77%).
Between March 1 and August 2, the share of vaccinations going to Hispanic people increased in all states reporting data for both periods and increased for Black people in most reporting states. In a few cases, these increases were large. For example, the share of vaccinations going to Black people increased from 26% to 43% in DC and from 25% to 38% in Mississippi. Similarly, the share of vaccinations going to Hispanic people increased by at least 10 percentage points in six states, including Florida (17% to 31%), Nevada (13% to 26%), California (19% to 30%), New Jersey (6% to 17%), Texas (23% to 35%), and New York (9% to 19%). The share of vaccinations going to Asian people also increased in most states reporting data for both periods, while it fell for White people in most reporting states. The share going to White people declined by 10 percentage points or more in 14 states (Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Alabama, Georgia, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, Mississippi, Texas, Maine, Illinois, Colorado, and New York).
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