Race disparity in DC region’s early vaccine rollout data

There are not only problems with vaccine distribution, but equity issues are emerging with the rollout across the D.C. region.

FOX 5 has discovered there are holes in collecting race data for the people getting the vaccine across the area, which is leaving doubts about equitable distribution.

READ MORE: Some nursing home staff members in the DC region refuse to get vaccine, officials say

"It is critically important in the United States that every state publish their data on race and ethnicity. The challenge that we’ve had is ensuring vaccine providers give us the data and they collect it at the time of dose administration. We’ve had a tremendously challenging time having vaccine providers collect race and ethnicity data," said Dr. Laquanda Nesbitt, District of Columbia Health Department.

At this time, the District of Columbia Health Department (DOH) isn’t reporting how many people in each race category have gotten the vaccine yet, but Dr. Nesbitt said they have plans to start releasing those numbers next week with a commitment to improve the quality of that data.

The DOH did reveal about 28% of individuals who are White have been vaccinated compared to 15% people who are Black in the district, and the rest of the data has been entered as unknown or other.

"We are absolutely focused on equity, equity and access to the vaccine, not only through the appointment process, but how we distribute vaccine to our providers," said Dr. Nesbitt.

READ MORE: Delegates push for Northern Virginia to be designated as mass vaccination site

Based on the latest data available in Virginia, over 200,000 White people have received the COVID vaccine, while roughly 50,000 Black and Latino Virginians have received the shot.

Governor Ralph Northam said that equity is at the absolute forefront of our vaccine effort. His office said it is difficult right now to understand exactly which communities are under-represented in our program, since they only have race data for only a fraction of the total people vaccinated (about 200,000 out of the 550,000 total). 

In Maryland, more than 260,000 White residents have been vaccinated compared to over 62,000 Black residents.

In a statement to FOX 5, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s office said, "We are focused on ensuring that the vaccine is distributed equitably and people who have concerns about taking the vaccine."

READ MORE: ‘Wartime effort’: Biden boosting vaccine supply to states, buying 200 million more doses

Currently, in Montgomery County, more than 18,000 individuals who are White have been administered the vaccine compared to a little over 9,800 Black and Hispanic people combined.

In Prince George’s County, that is not the case. More African Americans and Latinos combined have been vaccinated in the county compared to White people. This is important because Prince George’s is among one of the nation’s wealthiest black communities and it leads the state with the most coronavirus cases.

If you are wondering why any of this matters – well, keep in mind – minorities who are being hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to COVID Racial Tracker, Black people have died at 1.5 times the rate of White people nationwide.

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather