Arizona COVID-19 vaccine dashboard shows racial disparities, but more data are needed

By Stephanie Innes and Alison Steinbach | Arizona Republic

The Arizona Department of Health Services for the first time Tuesday posted a dashboard to display demographic data about COVID-19 vaccine administration across the state.

The information is limited, especially when it comes to race and ethnicity data. 

The data shows that about 48% of those who have received at least one dose have been white, although 37% of individuals are “other race/unknown.”

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The state health department did not immediately respond to a question Tuesday afternoon about why the race/ethnicity data is missing for more than one in three vaccinated individuals statewide.

So far, only 8.2% of those vaccinated are listed as Hispanic or Latino; 3% as American Indian or Alaska Native; 2.4% as Asian; and 1.4% as Black.

Arizona’s Census data shows a population that is about 54% white, 32% Hispanic or Latino, 5% American Indian or Alaska Native, 5% Black and 4% Asian.

White individuals are disproportionately getting vaccines at the two state-run, drive-thrusites in Maricopa County. About 62% of individuals vaccinated at those sites were white, compared to 3.8% Hispanic or Latino, although race is listed as other or unknown for 29% of individuals.

“Obviously, if we invest most of our resources as a state into the large vaccine distribution PODs (point of distribution sites), that’s great for getting vaccine to a lot of people, but any time that we focus on vaccinating a majority of people, it often leaves out minorities,” said Marcus Johnson, state policy director for the Phoenix-based Vitalyst Health Foundation, which has a mission of improving the health of Arizona individuals and communities.

“That’s one of the inherent downside risks of the mass vaccine distribution centers,” he said.

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