As of this week, federal data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 74.4% of the total population in the United States have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. While vaccination coverage has increased, it remains uneven across the country. Amid the current Omicron variant-related surge, unvaccinated people are at particularly increased risk for infection, severe illness, and death. As of January 10, 2022, White people accounted for the largest share (65%) of people who are unvaccinated.1 Over the course of the vaccination rollout, Black and Hispanic people have been less likely than their White counterparts to receive a vaccine, but these disparities have narrowed over time, particularly for Hispanic people. With booster shot eligibility expanded to all individuals ages 12 and older and children ages 5-11 eligible for vaccination, ensuring equity in the uptake of booster shots and vaccinations among children is also important. However, to date, limited data are available to examine disparities among booster shot recipients and children.

This data note presents federal data on COVID-19 vaccinations by race/ethnicity and race/ethnicity of booster shot recipients ages 65 and older, and state reported data by race/ethnicity on COVID-19 vaccinations, COVID-19 vaccinations among children, and booster shot recipients, where available.

Federal Data on COVID-19 Vaccinations by Race/Ethnicity

The CDC reports demographic characteristics, including race/ethnicity, of people receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at the national level, including both people who have received one dose and people who have been recently vaccinated (initiated within the last 14 days). As of January 10, 2022, CDC reported that race/ethnicity was known for 74% of people who had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Among this group, 56% were White, 10% were Black, 20% were Hispanic, 7% were Asian, 1% were American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN), and <1% were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (NHOPI), while 6% reported multiple or other race. White people make up a smaller share of people who have received at least one dose (56%) and people who have recently received a vaccination (43%) compared to their share of the total population (61%). A smaller share of Black people have received at least one dose of the vaccine (10%) compared to their total population (12%), while a similar proportion have received vaccinations in the last fourteen days (13%). Hispanic people make up a larger share of vaccinated people (20%) and people who recently received a vaccination (27%) compared to their share of the total population (17%). The share of vaccinated people who are Asian is similar to their share of the total population (7%, and 6%, respectively), while they make up a higher share (10%) of people initiating vaccination in the last 14 days. (Figure 1).

For children, CDC reports that as of January 10, 2022, 26.3% of children ages 5-11 and 64.3% of children ages 12-17 have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. However, CDC does not currently report race/ethnicity of vaccinated children.

The CDC reports the race/ethnicity of people who have received an additional/ booster vaccine dose at the federal level, but these data are limited to those ages 65 and older. Among this group, three-quarters of booster recipients were White (73%), 8% were Black, 8% were Hispanic, 4% were Asian, and AIAN and NHOPI people made up less than 1% of recipients (0.5% and 0.1%, respectively). White people make up a slightly larger share of booster dose recipients age 65 and older as their share of fully vaccinated people age 65 and up (73% vs. 71%), Hispanic people make up a slightly smaller share (8% vs. 10%), and the shares are similar for Black people (both 8%). The data also show an uptick in the shares of recent booster doses going to Black and Hispanic people, with the shares of recent booster doses going to Black (10%) and Hispanic people (13%) ages 65 and older exceeding their shares of fully vaccinated people ages 65 and older (8%, and 10%, respectively).

While these data provide helpful insights at the national level, significant gaps in data remain to help understand who is and is not getting vaccinated. To date, CDC is not publicly reporting state-level data on the racial/ethnic composition of people vaccinated. Moreover, CDC is not reporting racial and ethnic data for vaccinations among children, and its racial and ethnic data for booster dose recipients is limited to those ages 65 and older.

State Data on COVID-19 Vaccinations by Race/Ethnicity

To provide greater insight into who is receiving the vaccine and racial/ethnic disparities in vaccinations, KFF is collecting and analyzing state-reported data on COVID-19 vaccinations by race/ethnicity, as well as data on race/ethnicity of vaccinations among children and booster dose recipients where available.

Percent Who Have Received At least One Dose

As of January 10, 2022, 47 states and Washington D.C. were reporting vaccination data by race/ethnicity, including 45 states that reported race/ethnicity of people who received at least one dose of the vaccine.2 Figure 2 shows the percent of the total population who have been vaccinated by race/ethnicity in each of these 45 states, and the total across 42 of these states. (Idaho, North Dakota, and New Mexico are excluded from the total due to differences in their reporting of data.) It also shows the ratio of vaccination rates for White people compared to those of Black, Hispanic, and Asian people, as well as the percentage point difference between vaccination rates for White people and the rates for the other groups. These data will differ from survey estimates of vaccination rates that are limited to adults.

Across these 42 states, as of January 10, 2022, 60% percent of White and Hispanic people had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, higher than the rate for Black people (54%). White people had a vaccination rate that was similar or higher than the rate for Hispanic people in 25 states, while it was lower in 17 states. White people had a higher rate than Black people in most reporting states, except Oregon, West Virginia, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Washington, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The size of these differences varied widely across states, and they have been narrowing over time. The overall vaccination rate across states for Asian people was higher compared to White people (81% vs. 60%), which is consistent with the pattern in most reporting states. However, Asian people had lower vaccination rates than White people in four states (Pennsylvania, Colorado, North Dakota, and South Dakota).

Racial disparities in vaccination rates have narrowed over time and have closed for Hispanic people. Between December 13 and January 10, Asian, Hispanic, and Black people had larger increases in vaccination rates compared to White people. Asian people experienced the highest percentage point increase in vaccination rates, at 4.3 percentage points (76.5% to 80.9%). Hispanic people had a 3.1 percentage point increase, going from 56.4% to 59.5%, and the rate for Black people grew by 2.5 percentage points (from 51.3% to 53.8%). The rate for White people increased by 1.9 percentage points (58.3% to 60.3%). Over the course of the vaccination rollout, differences between vaccination rates for Black, Hispanic, and White people have narrowed. As of this week, White and Hispanic people are now receiving at least one dose of a vaccine at the same rate (60%). Between late April 2021, when most adults became eligible for vaccines across states, and January 10, 2022, the gap in vaccination rates between White and Black people fell from 14 percentage points (38% vs. 24%) to 6 percentage points (60% vs. 54%) while the 13% percentage point difference (38% vs. 25%) between White and Hispanic vaccination rates was eliminated.

Vaccinations Among Children

CDC reports that as of January 10, 2022, 26.3% of children ages 5-11 and 64.3% of children ages 12-17 have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. However, CDC does not currently report race/ethnicity of vaccinated children.

As of January 10, 2022, only nine states reported COVID-19 vaccination data by race/ethnicity for children. These states included: Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and Vermont (Figure 4). While these states report race/ethnicity of vaccinated children, they vary in their racial/ethnic categorizations and age groups, making it challenging to compare vaccination rates data across states. Seven states (Connecticut, District of Columbia, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Vermont) reported race/ethnicity data separately for children ages 5-11 who recently became eligible for the vaccine.

The data from these nine states have mixed findings regarding vaccinations by race/ethnicity among children. Black children had lower vaccination rates than White children in most but not all reporting states. Asian children had the highest vaccination rate in most reporting states. Rates for Hispanic children were mostly lower than rates for White children among those in the age 5-11 age group, while their rates were higher or similar to White children’s rates among those ages 12 and older or children overall (in states that do not include separate age breaks among children). Overall, it remains challenging to draw strong conclusions about racial equity in COVID-19 vaccinations among children due to the dearth of comprehensive data, inconsistency in reporting, and the lack of disaggregated data for smaller racial/ethnic groups, particularly NHOPI children.

Booster Dose Recipients

As of January 11, 2022, 12 states were reporting race/ethnicity of people receiving booster/additional doses. These states included: Alaska, California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, and Virginia. Although limited, these data raise concerns about potential disparities in the uptake of booster doses. In most of these states, the percent of fully vaccinated people who had received a booster dose was highest for White people, while rates were lower for Hispanic people. Findings for Asian people were more mixed, with rates similar or higher than White people in some states, but lower in others (Figure 5). Data for AIAN and NHOPI people were available in a smaller number of states and generally showed that they were less likely to receive a booster dose compared to White people, except in one state (VA). However, similar to the data for children, it is difficult to make strong conclusions about disparities in booster shots due to the lack of data and inconsistency across data where it is available.

Discussion

Data point to significantly increased risks of COVID-19 illness and death for people who remain unvaccinated. White people account for the largest share of people who remain unvaccinated. Black and Hispanic people have been less likely than their White counterparts to have received a vaccine over the course of the vaccination rollout, but these disparities have narrowed over time and closed for Hispanic people.

The increasing equity in vaccination rates likely reflects a combination of efforts focused on increasing vaccination rates among people of color through outreach and education and reducing access and logistical barriers to vaccination. This increased interest in getting the vaccine is also attributed to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and increases in vaccinations among younger adults and adolescents who include higher shares of people of color compared to other adults. Despite this progress, the ongoing disparities in rates highlight the importance of continued efforts to increase vaccination rates and to address gaps in vaccination both geographically and across racial/ethnic groups. Moreover, it will be important to prevent disparities in the uptake of booster shots, and among children between ages 5 to 11, the latest group to become eligible for the vaccine.  While the data provide useful insights, they remain subject to gaps, limitations, and inconsistencies that limit the ability to get a complete picture of who is and who is not getting vaccinated. As noted, at the federal level, race/ethnicity remains unknown for about a quarter of vaccinations. Moreover, CDC does not report state level vaccination data by race/ethnicity nor racial/ethnic data for vaccinations among children, and its racial/ethnic data for booster dose recipients is limited to those ages 65 and older.

At the state level, the completeness of race/ethnicity data has improved in most states over time. However, some states still have relatively high shares of vaccinations among people classified with “unknown” race/ethnicity. Further, three states still do not report vaccination data by race/ethnicity. Inconsistences in racial/ethnic classifications across states, as well as separate reporting of data for federally administered vaccinations, including those provided through the Indian Health Service and federal long-term care partnership program, limit the ability to interpret the data. Only a handful of states report data in a way that allows for analysis of vaccination rates by race/ethnicity among children. Similarly, limited state data are available on race/ethnicity of COVID-19 booster shot recipients.

In addition, ongoing changes and updates to the data may make it challenging to interpret the data and trend it over time. For example, some states have reported declines in cumulative vaccinations for some racial/ethnic groups over time. These declines reflect a variety of factors, including changes in state reporting methods and recoding of individuals’ racial/ethnic classifications over time. For example, several states have indicated that an individual’s self-reported race/ethnicity may change if they record a different classification when receiving a subsequent COVID-19 vaccine dose or another vaccination, such as the flu shot.

Overall, comprehensive standardized data are vital to monitor and ensure equitable access to and uptake of the vaccine. Without improvements in data reporting, it will not be possible to identify disparities in vaccination uptake among children or booster dose recipients. Identifying potential disparities in vaccination uptake among these groups will be particularly important as recent trends show reemerging disparities in COVID-19 infections amid the current surge in cases.

Complete data on the distribution of vaccinations by race/ethnicity as well as the percent of the total population that has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose are available and downloadable through our State Health Facts Online tables. KFF will continue to update these data on a regular basis going forward as vaccination distribution continues.

Endnotes
  1. Based on KFF analysis of vaccinations using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Demographic Characteristics of People Receiving COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States data and total population data using KFF analysis of the 2019 American Community Survey data.

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  2. Two states report race/ethnicity based on total doses administered.

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