(Washington, D.C.) – 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, a letter from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today. 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.
“This is about saving lives during one of the deadliest public health crises of our generation. Existing demographic data for COVID-19 vaccinations does not sufficiently capture disparities in distribution and access, ultimately failing our communities of color that are bearing the brunt of this pandemic,” said Natasha Chabria, associate counsel with the Economic Justice Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We need to collect race and ethnicity data to ensure that communities who are so often invisible in these conversations receive the support they need.”
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.
Read the letter here.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.