DPH Releases Available Race/Ethnicity Covid Vaccination Data
While warning of limitations of the data, DPH says it points to need to do more to vaccinate Black and other high risk populations
The CT Department of Public Health (DPH) today released data showing how vaccines in Connecticut have been administered throughout the state across race/ethnicity as of February 3rd. The data, while limited, mirrors what states across the country have seen: that disparities exist in vaccine administration across racial lines, with Black populations lagging behind White and Hispanic populations. [CLICK HERE TO VIEW CHART WITH DETAILED INFORMATION]
DPH cautioned that the data should be interpreted with several caveats:
- While reporting of race/ethnicity is required for all vaccine providers, there are some gaps, which is the case across all vaccines and not unique to COVID-19 vaccines
- Providers and individuals have the option of selecting “Other,” “Multiple Races” or “Not Reported” which makes analysis and comparisons across races difficult
- Providers use multiple means to report data to DPH, which then must be aggregated and analyzed, which can lead to missing or under-reported data
DPH also noted that data quality issues are not unique to Connecticut and are being seen across the country. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that 50% of the data reported by vaccine providers across the country did not contain race/ethnicity data.
Despite these limitations, DPH Acting Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford noted that the data does suggest that disparities exist in the administration of vaccines to historically underserved communities, particularly Black populations.
“As we open up the vaccine program to individuals 65 and over, we are redoubling our efforts to ensure that vaccine is reaching the communities and populations who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” said Commissioner Gifford. “We are re-allocating additional vaccine to communities with large minority populations, encouraging our vaccine providers to conduct outreach and implement other measures to ensure that individuals from underserved communities have equitable access to vaccinations.”
Commissioner Gifford pointed to several other steps being taken to address disparities in vaccine administration, including:
- Ensuring adequate vaccine supply. Underserved cities and towns are home to 60% of CT’s population, and DPH is allocating vaccine to ensure there is no shortage of doses.
- Targeting an additional roughly 10% of the state’s allocation to go to what are known as “high SVI towns” for use at clinics targeted for senior housing, congregate settings and other locations with populations that might not have easy access to vaccine
- Those towns/cities are identified using the CDC’s social vulnerability index (SVI), which seeks to identify municipalities where a number of factors, including poverty, lack of access to transportation, and crowded housing may weaken a community’s ability to respond to a public health crisis, like a pandemic.
- Launching 60 pharmacy locations this week:
- 2/3rd are in high SVI towns
- 1/3rd are in rural, underserved communities
- Establishing the state’s Vaccine Appointment Assist Line, 877-918-2224, to broaden access to residents without Internet or with technology issues and for non-English speaking residents
- Deploying Community Outreach Specialists – bilingual, with existing relationships in local communities – to serve as vaccine ambassadors
- Launching a trusted messenger Train the Trainer Program for community leaders, starting with outreach to underserved communities
- Supporting a multi-lingual education and social media campaign to boost vaccine confidence (communications materials are translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Haitian Creole, other languages on request)
Due to a constrained vaccine supply which limits the number of vaccines administered weekly combined with the relatively unreliable nature of the race/ethnicity data, DPH does not have plans at this time for a regular release of this data. In the coming weeks, as the number of individuals receiving their first dose of vaccine becomes more robust and data reporting more reliable, DPH will announce a regular schedule for the release of the race/ethnicity data.