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HPIO analysis: 1 in 8 Ohio vaccinations lacks data on patient’s race, 1 in 4 lacks ethnicity data

New analysis by the Health Policy Institute of Ohio has found that the race of COVID-19 vaccine recipients is unknown for more than one in eight vaccinations administered in Ohio and ethnicity is unknown in more than one in four.

This lack of data makes it challenging for policymakers to determine whether vaccine efforts are effectively reaching communities of color.

“Complete data collection on race and ethnicity is foundational to end the pandemic,” said Amy Rohling McGee, president of HPIO.” All vaccine providers should be required to ask for this information, and ‘decline to respond’ should be an option for the recipient. Vaccine providers need to explain that the data will be used to make sure that all Ohioans are being reached, especially Ohioans of color who have been disparately impacted by COVID-19.”

Complete data is critical for developing plans for equitable access to vaccines for all Ohioans.

”Data can drive decision-making and ensure that vaccination sites are easy to access and located in communities that have been most impacted,” McGee said. “Evaluation of current and future vaccination strategies requires timely and accurate data.”

Gaps in data have been an ongoing challenge in Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to vaccines, Ohio also has a significant number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths listed as “unknown” for race and ethnicity (see graphic below).