New Resources Track State Vaccinations by Race/Ethnicity and Examine Demographics of Health Workers

A new Policy Watch, Early State Vaccination Data Raise Warning Flags for Racial Equity, explores the latest state-reported data on vaccination by race/ethnicity available on KFF’s COVID-19 state data and policy tracker.

As of January 19, 2021, 17 states were reporting some vaccination data by race/ethnicity, including 16 states reporting the distribution of vaccinations by race/ethnicity.

Black Americans’ share of vaccinations is smaller than their share of cases in 16 reporting states and smaller than their share of deaths in 15 of the states. The trend is similar for Hispanic Americans with them accounting for a smaller share of vaccinations compared to cases and deaths in most states reporting data.

White Americans’ share of vaccinations is larger than their share of cases in 13 of the 16 reporting states and larger than their share of deaths in 9 states.

Asian Americans are experiencing fewer and smaller gaps between their share of vaccinations and cases in reporting states. Data on Asians’ share of deaths is limited and data gaps also exist for American Indian and Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander people.

Vaccines are not yet broadly available and states are prioritizing specific groups before the general public, so vaccination patterns may change as more data is available. However, data and our news reporting at KHN have shown that vaccination is lagging by various measures for people of color. KFF will regularly update the data by race/ethnicity to track racial disparities in access and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

Also available is a new data note examining the makeup (by race/ethnicity, income level, age, gender, education, and citizenship status) and health insurance coverage status of the estimated 15.5 million health care workers with direct patient contact. Health and long-term care workers were among the first groups prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccination based on federal guidelines, which states have tailored and implemented.

Some key findings in the data note include:

  • Overall, 59% of health care workers are White and 41% are people of color (including 17% who are Black, 14% who are Hispanic, and 8% who are Asian). However, the majority (52%) of workers in long-term care settings are people of color (including 28% who are Black, 15% who are Hispanic, and 6% who are Asian) while 48% are White.
  • A large majority (77%) of health care workers are women, and the number rises to 84% in long-term care settings.
  • 17% of health care workers are low-income (household income less than 200% of the federal poverty level), with 5% having household income below the poverty level. One-third (33%) of workers in long-term care settings are low-income, including 11% who have household income below poverty.
  • 14% of health workers in long-term care are uninsured and about one in five (21%) have Medicaid coverage. Overall, less than one in ten (7%) health care workers are uninsured.
  • Eight in ten of health care workers have completed at least some college, while 4% have not completed high school. Among those working in long-term care, six in ten have completed some college, with 10% having less than a high school education.
Media reports indicate some health workers are opting not to be vaccinated, particularly among those working in long-term care facilities, and recent KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor data show that roughly three in ten health care workers (29%) express hesitancy about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. A better understanding of the health care workforce in direct contact with patients can better inform educational efforts and messages about the vaccine to ensure equity in its distribution. Read Key Characteristics of Health Care Workers and Implications for COVID-19 Vaccination for the full findings and discussion.

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