COVID-19 vaccine data reveals huge gaps in race, ethnicity, occupation information 

Health officials across the U.S. are struggling to gather critical data including race, ethnicity and occupation of individuals who receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a Jan. 28 Kaiser Health News report. 

Eight things to know: 

1. The reporting gaps could mean that  people who don't work in healthcare and those who have no contact with patients are getting vaccines before front-line workers. Federal and state officials have prioritized health workers and nursing home staff and residents as those who should be in the first wave to receive shots. 

2. Lapses in reporting race or ethnicity could hinder efforts to identify and track whether minorities, who have been hit especially hard by pandemic, are getting shots at  high enough rates to achieve  herd immunity. 

3. Data sent to the CDC and other federal systems is "only going to be as good as whatever you can get out of the vaccine registries," which vary by state, Marcus Plescia, MD, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told Kaiser Health News.

4. The U.S. has 64 immunization registries to collect information for states, territories and certain large cities, but none of them are connected, and all were at different stages of robustness going into the pandemic, Dr. Plescia said. 

5. Kaiser Health News analyzed data being gathered versus what the CDC said is supposed to be collected for every person vaccinated, which includes name, address, sex, date of birth, race and ethnicity, date and location of vaccination and the shot received. The CDC did not have occupation listed on its reporting criteria. 

6. On Jan. 27, vaccine data from Texas showed that race or ethnicity was unknown for more than 700,000 people; Virginia's data had information missing for nearly 300,000 vaccinations as of Jan. 26, and the same was shown for tens of thousands of vaccinations in Colorado and Maryland. 

7. In addition to knowing how many shots are administered, it is also "critical that we get good race and ethnicity information about who is receiving it so we can identify disparities and other problems,” said Janet Hamilton, executive director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, according to the report. 

8. The CDC declined to say how many of the vaccine records it received are missing information, and a spokesperson told Kaiser Health News the agency plans to publish race, ethnicity and other demographic data next week. HHS did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the publication. 

Click here to view the full report. 


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