HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) New and limited data released Wednesday from the Connecticut Department of Public Health suggests there are racial disparities in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine in the state, mirroring what’s been happening in other states where Black populations lag far behind white populations in getting the shot.
As of Feb. 3, nearly 2% of residents age 75 years and older who have received the vaccine were Black while 59.7% were white, according to the data. Meanwhile, slightly more than 1% were Asian; 2.3% were Hispanic; 6.2% were mixed race; and 19.4% were listed as other, which includes American Indians, Native Alaskans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
According to 2019 U.S. Census data, 74.6% of Connecticut’s population is white while 11% is only Black or African-American.
"As we open up the vaccine program to individuals 65 and over, we are redoubling our efforts to ensure that vaccine is reaching the communities and populations who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,’’ DPH Acting Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford said. "We are re-allocating additional vaccine to communities with large minority populations, encouraging our vaccine providers to conduct outreach and implement other measures to ensure that individuals from underserved communities have equitable access to vaccinations.’’
Residents age 65 and older can officially begin making appointments for vaccinations on Thursday in Connecticut.
The Department of Public Health cautioned there are some gaps in the data and noted that it’s difficult to make comparisons across races considering people can select "other," "multiple races’’ or "not reported.’’ Also, DPH said health care providers use multiple means to report data to the state, which can lead to missing or under-reported data.
Gifford said the state is targeting roughly an additional 10% of the state’s allocation for vaccination clinics in cities and towns with poverty, lack of access to transportation and crowded housing. Also, two-thirds of the pharmacy vaccination sites being launched this week are located in these high "socially vulnerable’’ communities while another one-third are located in rural, underserved communities.
Meanwhile, the number of people hospitalized in Connecticut with COVID-10 dropped below 800 patients for the first time in months on Wednesday. There were 770 hospitalized, a decline of 56 since Tuesday. The number of COVID-associated deaths increased by 28, for a total of 7,326.