New Data on COVID-19 Vaccination Highlight Racial Inequities

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released a new data report showing low percentages of Hispanic, Black and Multiracial people have received COVID-19 vaccine when compared to those groups’ proportion of the state population.

The report provides race and ethnicity data for people who have received at least one dose of vaccine and for people who are fully vaccinated, with breakdowns for all ages and for people 65 years and older. It also includes the percent of vaccinated people by age group across all races/ethnicities.

Report findings include:

  • The percentage of vaccinated people who are Hispanic (4.7% of people who have received at least one dose, 5.9% of people who are fully vaccinated) is lower than Hispanic representation in the state population (13.2%).
  • The percentage of vaccinated people who are Black (2.2% of people who have received at least one dose, 2.7% of people who are fully vaccinated) is lower than Black representation in the state population (3.9%).
  • Multiracial groups are also underrepresented compared to the overall state population, both among people who have received at least one dose of vaccine and people who are fully vaccinated.
  • American Indian or Alaska Natives make up a slightly larger proportion of vaccinated people compared to their representation in the population, both among people who have received at least one dose and people who are fully vaccinated.
  • Asians are slightly overrepresented among people who are fully vaccinated.
  • Race and ethnicity data specific only to vaccinated people who are 65 years and older show a lower proportion of Whites compared to the population. Many other race/ethnicity groups had similar or slightly lower proportions compared to the population.
  • When looking at data for everyone who has received vaccine, the 65 and older age group had the highest percentage of people with at least one dose of vaccine (30.0%), followed by people 50-64 years old (10.7%). The 35-49 year old age group had the highest percent fully vaccinated (4.4%), followed by the 50-64 year old age group (3.9%). Since eligibility depends partly on age, large differences in vaccination rates are expected.
  • Vaccination data includes a category for Other Race that isn’t included as a category in population data. Additionally, while providers must fill out race and ethnicity when submitting vaccination data, they are able to report them as unknown. These differences make it challenging to compare directly with population data and draw conclusions.

“These data are crucial to understanding how we must balance the need to vaccinate as many Washingtonians as quickly as possible while also promoting equity in the process,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “While we have been focusing on both throughout, we must all do more to address these COVID-19 vaccine inequities and related access barriers.”

DOH has also updated its strategies for equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution. DOH initially developed and will continue to update these strategies based on ongoing feedback from communities and partners, as well as vaccination data.

The race, ethnicity and age metrics in the report will be incorporated into DOH’s COVID-19 data dashboard within approximately one week. Once in the dashboard, they will be updated on the same Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule as other vaccine data.