U.S. Government Lacks Data on Race and Ethnicity for Half of COVID-19 Vaccine Recipients, CDC Report Reveals

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report on Feb. 1 that revealed wide data gaps on the race and ethnicity of Americans receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the CDC report, the government lacks data on race and ethnicity for nearly half of the 13 million Americans who received at least one dose of the vaccine from Dec. 14 to Jan. 14.

The reason for why the data is missing is unclear, but NBC News reported that it is likely due to a lack of demographics protocol.

“The people giving out the vaccine are not recording the race and ethnicity data. People need to realize that this is serious. We might need a mandatory field to make sure that it is filled out,” Dr. Marcus Plescia of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials said, as reported by NBC News.

“More complete reporting of race and ethnicity data at the provider and jurisdictional levels is critical to ensure rapid detection of and response to potential disparities in COVID-19 vaccination,” the researchers of the report wrote.

At a White House press briefing, COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith said that the “insufficient data” must be addressed as an “urgent priority.”

“We cannot ensure an equitable vaccination program without data to guide us,” Nunez-Smith said, adding that she is “worried about how behind we are”

Among those who received at least one dose of the vaccine, only 11.5 % were Hispanic or Latino, 5.4% were Black, 6% were Asian, and 14.4% identified as other or multiple races. This is despite reports saying that people at highest risk of infection were Hispanics, Blacks, and Native Americans or Alaskan Natives.

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