According to state data White Texans are being vaccinated at nearly twice the rate of Hispanic Texans and more than six times the rate of Black Texans.
Black and Hispanic Texans, who have already been disproportionately killed and hospitalized after being infected with COVID-19, appear to be vastly underrepresented among those getting shots across the state, according to state health data that still paints an incomplete picture.
The state health department’s limited demographic data distorts the picture of the disparities statewide because more than one-sixth of the records don’t include the race or ethnicity of the recipients.
The Texas Department of State Health Services recently expanded vaccine access to Texans age 50 and older and now requires providers to report racial demographic information, but local health officials and experts still say the people being vaccinated in Texas do not reflect the state’s demographics. Among the more than 5.86 million Texans vaccinated with at least one dose as of March 18, just under 41% of the recipients have been white, which is roughly in line with their proportion of the state population.
Meanwhile, Hispanics, who make up about 40% of the state’s population, account for just over 21% of people vaccinated in Texas. Black Texans, who make up about 13% of the state population, account for about 6% of people vaccinated through March 18.
The only racial or ethnic group being vaccinated at a higher rate than its population share is Asian Texans, who make up about 5% of the state’s population and roughly 6% of those vaccinated. The “other” category, which accounts for about 8% of those vaccinated, includes other races and those who identify as multiracial, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services website. Texans whose race or ethnicity is unknown account for just over 17% of people vaccinated.
DSHS has collected and published race and ethnicity data since late January, which is more than a month into the nation’s vaccination process. To better track which groups are being vaccinated officials said they would start requiring it – race and ethnicity – making it easier for users to report.
“We are getting much more complete race/ethnicity data now,” DSHS spokesperson Chris Van Deusen said in a statement, adding that the demographics of those who have received first doses administered since Feb. 4 are “much closer to the state’s 16 and older population breakdown … than we were able to see early on when we didn’t know the race or ethnicity of such a large percentage of people.”