Who’s getting 1/5 of Colorado’s COVID-19 vaccine? Data shows ‘unknown’

Data Desk

Photo by Mike Morones/The Free Lance-Star via AP

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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado might vaccinate the most equitably in the nation and it might not. There isn’t enough statewide data at the moment to tell one way or another.

Gov. Jared Polis’ administration has a Vaccine Equity Task Force that has taken it upon itself to make sure no groups of Coloradans get left out or opt out of the COVID-19 vaccine program. Communities of color may be resistant to the vaccine, and the task force speaks directly to them in an effort to get support.

This matches national concern over whether or not all racial and ethnic groups are being vaccinated at the same rate. In Colorado, though, statewide data does not give any signs of success or failure in making vaccination perfectly equitable.

CDPHE vaccine data tracks the percentage of vaccines administered by race, gender and age group. Compared to each demographic’s percentage of Colorado’s population, some look less vaccinated than others.

Only white non-Hispanics and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders have so far received the same percentage of vaccines as their percentage of Colorado’s population.

White non-Hispanics are 67.76% of Colorado and have received 67.66% of the states vaccines, while Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are 0.12% of Colorado’s population and have received 0.19% of the state’s vaccines.

All other groups have received a smaller vaccine share than their population share. The disparity is largest in the Hispanic, all races racial category, who have only received 4.29% of vaccines despite being 21.69% of Colorado’s population.

These disparities, however, are misleading. CDPHE data does not know what race received about one-fifth of the vaccines.

CDPHE lists an “unknown” bracket in its vaccine percentage breakdown. Unknown ethnicities have received 22.22% of the state’s vaccines – a little less than 115,000 individual doses.

If these doses were added evenly to each demographic category, every group but Hispanic would be significantly overrepresented in their vaccinations. Beyond this and certain neighborhood-level demographics, there is no way to figure if Colorado’s vaccines have been equitably distributed.

We can’t know racial statistics, but we do know general ones. Whatever the task force is doing, Colorado’s vaccine program keeps getting better relative to other U.S. states.

Colorado’s vaccine program is outperforming the majority of the country. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers, the state has administered at least one dose to 8,608 residents per every 100,000 – the tenth best rate in the nation among states.

The vaccine rollout has been spotty nationally, and Colorado is no exception. The number of vaccinations given each day is sporadic but follows a general pattern of falling off during the weekends and peaking midweek. The trend, however, continues upward.

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