CDC urged to issue more guidance on demographic data collection to ensure equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution

April 1, 2021

The lack of adequate recording and public dissemination of race and ethnicity data related to COVID-19 has contributed to disparate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, stated a letter from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The letter calls on the CDC to provide stronger federal support on COVID-19 vaccine data collection and communicate enhanced guidance to states on utilizing demographic data to better serve under-resourced communities. The groups are urging the CDC to:     

·        Issue national guidance requiring that all federal, state, local and private vaccine providers collect racial and ethnic data according to the HHS’s 4302 implementing guidance; 

·         Publicly report this comprehensive data on the CDC’s platforms, including key state and national trends;  

·         Require states to report racial and ethnic demographic data on tests, infections, hospitalization, fatalities, and vaccinations related to COVID-19; and  

·         Update data collection and reporting requirements for federal programs like V-Safe, VAERS, FEMA-operated vaccination sites, and COVID-19 response funding programs such as the National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Among Populations at High-Risk and Underserved, Including Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations and Rural Communities.   

Nationwide, existing race and ethnicity vaccine distribution data is limited or inconsistent, revealing that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black and Brown communities by nearly every measure, with almost double the odds of hospitalization and death as a result of COVID-19. 

Additional evidence shows that certain Asian populations also are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. These nuances are hardly captured through current data collection practices that lump Asians and Latinos into one generic cohort. Despite the harsh realities of the pandemic’s impacts, communities of color are still vaccinated at disproportionately lower rates than their white counterparts, perpetuating and exacerbating existing racial inequities.   

Comprehensive, accurate racial and ethnic data collection is essential to the development of effective and culturally appropriate responses to the COVID-19 crisis. The collection and public distribution of more thorough, inclusive data is essential to identify impacted groups and ensure equitable COVID-19 vaccine administration for all communities.  

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has the release

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