Race, ethnicity data absent in thousands of DC coronavirus vaccine records

D.C. released early vaccine data on the race and ethnicity of residents who have received the coronavirus vaccine, but the District’s health officer said it is missing some key information — namely race and ethnicity.

Health Officer Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said the data is incomplete, because the race and ethnicity of vaccine recipients have not always been recorded.

“If health care providers do not collect information on race and ethnicity in the immunization and information system, that data cannot be analyzed and provided to the public, and that data, more importantly, cannot help to drive the District’s plan for a safe and effective and equitable immunization program.

That is why we are working with our health care providers, COVID-19 vaccine providers to make this data more complete and robust,” Nesbitt said.

More than 11,000 data points are missing for race, and the other category is inconsistent with other race and ethnicity reports that D.C. Health typically provides, Nesbitt said. For ethnicity, there are over 35,000 fields where the ethnicity for an individual has not been reported.

“No conclusions can be drawn by this race and ethnicity data,” Nesbitt said during a news conference Monday.

D.C. releases early data on the race and ethnicity of residents who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. (Courtesy DC Health)

Nesbitt said last week that it was “critically important” that states publish their data on race and ethnicity when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations.

“The challenge that we’ve had is ensuring that vaccine providers give us the data that they collected at the time of dose administration; we’ve had a tremendously challenging time having vaccine providers actually collect race and ethnicity data,” Nesbitt said.

Nesbitt said that equity is a focus in administering the vaccine, and D.C.’s approach is aimed at ensuring that residents in areas that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 have an advantage in accessing appointments.

Some 1,800 vaccine appointments were opened up to prioritize these areas on Thursday.

The priority ZIP codes are focused in wards 5, 7 and 8 and include ZIP codes 20422, 20011, 20017, 20018, 20002, 20001, 20019, 20020, 20020, 20032 and 20593.

These wards have the lowest percentages of residents 65 and older who have received at least one dose of the vaccine, which is why they are prioritized this week.

Eligible groups who live in these locations include those who are 65 years old or older and/or work in a health care setting.

The vaccine appointments went quickly. After appointments opened at 9 a.m. Thursday, Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted at 9:16 a.m. that all the appointments had been filled.

And starting on Friday at 9 a.m., an additional 1,800 appointments will be available to all D.C. residents who are 65 years and older and/or are health care workers in D.C.

Currently, those receiving the COVID-19 vaccines in D.C., in addition to those 65 and older and health care workers, include members of D.C. Fire and EMS; residents of long-term and intermediate care facilities; those who live in group homes; those experiencing homelessness, D.C. police and government personnel necessary for the continuity of government; residents and employees of correctional facilities; teachers and staff working in person in D.C. schools; and child care workers and teachers and staff at independent schools.

Some 83,000 coronavirus vaccine doses have been delivered in D.C. as of Jan. 31 and the city has administered more than 62,000 doses as of Monday.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

WTOP’s Will Vitka contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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