As noted in previous analysis, preventing racial disparities in the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines will be important to help mitigate the disproportionate impacts of the virus for people of color and prevent widening racial health disparities going forward. Moreover, reaching high vaccination rates across individuals and communities will be key for achieving broader population immunity through a vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting demographic characteristics, including race/ethnicity, of people receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at the national level. As of March 1, 2021, CDC data showed that race/ethnicity was known for just over half (54%) of people who had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Among this group, nearly two thirds were White (65%), 9% were Hispanic, 7% were Black, 5% were Asian, 2% were American Indian or Alaska Native, and <1% were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, while 13% reported multiple or other race. However, to date, CDC is not providing state-level demographic data for people vaccinated.

To provide greater insight into who is receiving the vaccine and whether some groups are facing disparities in vaccination, KFF is collecting and analyzing state-reported data on COVID-19 vaccinations by race/ethnicity. Figure 1 provides data on COVID-19 vaccinations, cases, and deaths by race/ethnicity as of March 1, 2021. The data also show the distribution of the total population by race/ethnicity as of 2019.

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As of March 1, 2021, 41 states were reporting vaccination data by race/ethnicity.
Together these data show:

  • As observed in prior weeks, there is a consistent pattern across states of Black and Hispanic people receiving smaller shares of vaccinations compared to their shares of cases and deaths and compared to their shares of the total population. For example, in Arizona, 13% of vaccinations have gone to Hispanic people, while they account for 36% of cases, 31% of deaths, and 32% of the total population in the state. Similarly, in Maryland, Black people have received 17% of vaccinations, while they make up 33% of cases, 35% of deaths, and 30% of the total population in the state.
  • In most states, the share of vaccinations among Asian people was similar to or higher than their share of cases and deaths, although, in some states, it was lower. The share of vaccinations among Asian people was similar to their share of the total population in most states, and where there were differences, they were generally small.
  • White people received a higher share of vaccinations compared to their share of cases and deaths and their share of the total population in most states reporting data. For example, in Georgia, 69% of vaccinations were received by White people, while they make up 52% of the population, and in Nevada, nearly two-thirds (63%) of people who have been vaccinated are White, while they make up less than half (48%) of the total state population.

We also calculate vaccination rates for the 36 states that report racial/ethnic data based on total people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. (States that report race/ethnicity based on total doses administered are excluded from this analysis.) Table 1 shows the percent of the total population who have been vaccinated by race/ethnicity in each of these states and the total across 35 of these states. (North Dakota is excluded from the total because it does not provide data on the number of people vaccinated.) It also shows the ratio of vaccination rates for White people compared to those of Black, Hispanic, and Asian people.

Overall, across these 35 states, the vaccination rate among White people was over two and a half times higher than the rate for Hispanic people (13% vs. 5%) and nearly twice as high as the rate for Black people (13% vs. 7%). White people have a higher vaccination rate compared to Hispanic people in all reporting states and a higher rate than Black people in every reporting state except Alaska. However, the size of these differences varies widely across states. For example, White people are more than six times as likely to be vaccinated than Hispanic people in Georgia and over four times as likely to be vaccinated in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and North Carolina, while differences are smaller in Vermont, Missouri, and Alaska. Vaccination rates for White people are over three times higher than the rates for Black people in Pennsylvania and North Dakota, while differences are smaller in places like DC, Maine, Massachusetts, and rates are similar in Alaska. The vaccination rate for Asian people is closer to the rate for White people in most reporting states, although they are less likely to have been vaccinated in most reporting states. These gaps and patterns mirror those reported as of mid-February.

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Together, these data raise concerns about disparities in vaccination but are also subject to gaps, limitations, and inconsistencies that limit the ability to get a complete picture of who is and who is not getting vaccinated. For example, data gaps limit the ability to compare vaccinations among American Indian and Alaska Native people and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander people to their shares of cases, deaths, and the total population at the state level. Moreover, some states have high shares of vaccinations that are missing race/ethnicity or that are classified as “other,” limiting the ability to interpret the data. For example, in DC, 42% of vaccinations were among people classified as “other” race, and 18% had unknown race. Ten states were not yet reporting vaccination data by race/ethnicity. Comprehensive standardized data across states will be vital to monitor and ensure equitable access to and take up of the vaccine.

These data are still early, with vaccinations not yet broadly available to the public in many areas. A number of states are implementing strategies seeking to address these emerging disparities, and the federal government is launching a range of approaches to expand vaccine access and uptake, with a particular focus on reaching underserved areas and communities hardest hit by the pandemic. KFF will be continuing to update these data on a regular basis going forward as vaccination distribution continues and more people become eligible.

All reported data on vaccinations by race/ethnicity are available through our COVID-19 State Data and Policy Actions tracker and downloadable through our State Health Facts Online tables.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.