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(Reuters) - Early data on U.S. coronavirus vaccinations released on Monday suggests that Blacks and Hispanics received a smaller proportion of shots than their representation among healthcare workers and nursing home residents, two priority groups for COVID-19 inoculations.
The United States needs more complete data on the race and ethnicity of people who have been vaccinated, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which released the data.
Blacks and Hispanics have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 with a disproportionate number of deaths, and public health officials have broadly called for equity in vaccine distribution.
Race data was only available for about half of the 12.9 million people vaccinated in the United States between Dec. 14, 2020 and Jan. 14, 2021.
Blacks received 5.4% of shots reported with race/ethnicity data, the CDC said, despite national data showing they made up 16% of healthcare workers and 14% of nursing home residents, two groups prioritized for the first wave of vaccinations.
Hispanics received 11.5% of the shots, according to the available data, while making up 13% of healthcare workers and 5% of nursing home residents.
Whites received 60.4% of shots and accounted for 60% of healthcare workers and 75% of nursing home residents.
Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, told reporters on Monday that the data so far suggests that Black Americans and other non-white groups are not being vaccinated at the same rate as white Americans.
She added that she thinks that if data had been collected for everyone who received shots, it would show an even greater imbalance.
New York City on Sunday reported that while Blacks made up 24% of the city’s population, according to 2019 data, they have so far sought and received only 11% of coronavirus vaccinations.
The federal data showed that of those for whom racial/ethnic data was reported, 14.4% were reported as multiple/other, 6.0% Asian and 2.0% American Indian or Alaskan Natives, the study showed.
In addition to the limited availability of racial data, the CDC said the report also had to contend with varying criteria for administering shots among states and vaccination centers.
Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Carl O’Donnell in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Bill Berkrot