As of this week, federal data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 77% 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, with unvaccinated people at particularly increased risk for infection, severe illness, and death. As of April 5, 2022, White people accounted for two-thirds (64%) 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 and been reversed 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 racial disparities among booster shot recipients and children.

This data note presents federal data on COVID-19 vaccinations and booster doses by race/ethnicity and state reported data on COVID-19 vaccinations, COVID-19 vaccinations among children, and booster shot recipients by race/ethnicity, 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 April 5, 2022, CDC reported that race/ethnicity was known for 74% of people who had received at least one dose of the vaccine. White people make up a smaller share of people who have received at least one dose (55%) and people who have recently received a vaccination (37%) compared to their share of the total population (59%). Black people make up 10% of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine compared to 12% of the total population; their share of people who have received a vaccination in the last fourteen days is slightly higher at 14%. Hispanic people make up a larger share of vaccinated people (21%) and people who recently received a vaccination (35%) compared to their share of the total population (19%). The overall share of vaccinated people who are Asian is similar to their share of people who recently got vaccinated and their share of total population (7%, 7%, and 6%, respectively) (Figure 1).

For children, CDC reports that as of April 5, 2022, 34% of children ages 5-11 and 68% 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 also reports the race/ethnicity of people who have received an additional/booster vaccine dose at the federal level. Among this group, 62% of booster recipients were White, 8% were Black, 8% were Asian, 15% were Hispanic, and AIAN and NHOPI people made up less than 1% of recipients (0.7% and 0.3%, respectively). The shares of Black and Hispanic people who have received a booster does are lower than their shares of fully vaccinated people ages 12 and older (10% and 20%, respectively) However, Black and Hispanic people made up larger shares of people receiving a booster dose in the past 14 days (12% and 23%, respectively). Overall, Asian (60%) and White (54%) people had the highest shares of eligible people who had received a booster dose, while less than half of NHOPI (47%), AIAN (46%), Black (44%) and Hispanic (40%) people had received a booster shot.

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 or receiving booster doses. Moreover, CDC is not reporting racial and ethnic data for vaccinations among children.

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 April 4, 2022, 47 states and Washington D.C. were reporting vaccination data by race/ethnicity, including 43 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 43 states, and the total across 38 of these states. (Idaho, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oregon are excluded from the total due to differences in their reporting of data.) It also shows the percentage point difference between vaccination rates for White people and the rates for Black, Hispanic, and Asian people. These data will differ from survey estimates of vaccination rates that are limited to adults. As more states begin phasing out their public health emergency measures, some may reduce the frequency with which they report their vaccination data or stop reporting. For example, Kansas, Michigan, and Arizona have all reduced the frequency of their dashboard updates, while Missouri stopped reporting vaccination data by race/ethnicity. Kentucky had not updated its COVID vaccine dashboard since our last update in March, while New Hampshire’s COVID-19 dashboard was temporarily offline for maintenance as of April 4.

Across the 38 states for which a total vaccination rate could be calculated by race/ethnicity as of April 4, 2022, 85% of Asian, 65% of Hispanic, and 63%of White people had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, higher than the rate for Black people (57%). Hispanic people had a similar or higher vaccination rate than White people in 23 states. White people had a higher rate than Black people in most reporting states, except for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska, West Virginia, Utah, Pennsylvania, and Washington. 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 (85% vs. 63%), which was reflected across all reporting states except for North Dakota, South Dakota, and Colorado.

Vaccinations have plateaued across racial and ethnic groups since the last update on March 7th. All race/ ethnicity groups experienced a 1 percentage point or less change in vaccination rates between March 7 and April 4. The vaccination rates for Black people remained the same at 57%. Among Asian, White and Hispanic people, the vaccination rates inched up from 84% to 85%, 62% to 63%, and 64% to 65%, respectively.

Over the course of the vaccination rollout, differences between vaccination rates for Black, Hispanic, and White people have narrowed, and the disparity for Hispanic people has reversed. Between late April 2021, when most adults became eligible for vaccines across states, and April 4, 2022, the gap in vaccination rates between White and Black people fell from 14 percentage points (38% vs. 24%) to 6 percentage points (63% vs. 57%) while the 13% percentage point difference (38% vs. 25%) between White and Hispanic vaccination rates was eliminated, with Hispanic people having a slightly higher rate than White people as of early 2022.

Vaccinations Among Children

As of this week, nine states (Connecticut, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and Vermont) and Washington D.C. reported COVID-19 vaccination data by race/ethnicity for children (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 data across states. Seven states (Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, and Vermont) and Washington D.C. reported race/ethnicity data separately for children ages 5-11, who were the most recent group to become eligible for the vaccine.

The data from these ten 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 lower or similar to rates for White children in most states among those in the age 5-11 age group. However, among children 12 and older or children overall (in states that do not include separate age breaks among children), their rates were mostly higher or similar to White children’s.  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 April 1, 2022, 25 states and Washington D.C. were reporting vaccination booster data by race/ethnicity, a significant uptick from the 18 states reporting these data as of March 8, 2022. Among these states and Washington D.C., the share of Black and Hispanic people who had received a booster shot was lower compared to White people. Findings for Asian people were more mixed, with rates similar or higher than White people in about half the states, but lower in the others (Figure 5). However, like 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 reversed 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. It may also reflect increased interest in getting the vaccine in response to variants 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, including booster doses, by race/ethnicity nor racial/ethnic data for vaccinations among children.

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, four states do not report vaccination data by race/ethnicity, and this number may grow if additional states stop reporting data going forward. 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. For example, without improvements in data reporting, it will not be possible to identify disparities in vaccination uptake among children.

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

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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