IDAHO — The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has released race and ethnicity data to give a better idea of who is getting vaccinated statewide, but the data is very limited.
“This week, we have now 62 percent of our records containing and a little over half retaining information on ethnicity and that’s an improvement over previous. But we do have more improvement to go,” said Dr. Christine Hahn, Idaho's state epidemiologist.
Hahn said individuals aren’t required to provide their race or ethnicity to COVID-19 vaccine providers.
“If a patient comes into the clinic to get vaccinated and wants to decline reporting race and ethnicity, they have every right to do so,” Hahn said. “However, we want to make sure we are getting the information when it's available that it's always coming to us.”
As of March 2, the race and ethnicity data shows about 5,917 Hispanic or Latinos got the COVID-19 vaccine.
During Tuesday’s media briefing, Dr. Hahn said she believes two factors could explain the low number of Hispanics or Latinos getting vaccinated.
“One is we are very concerned about low vaccination rates potentially occurring in that population due to maybe less health care access, communication of language barriers, know where to access vaccine, and how to access vaccine. We hope that improves,” Dr. Hahn said. “But also, as a reminder, our first groups of vaccinated people were mostly healthcare workers and seniors and in those two populations, our Hispanic representation is lower.”
Dr. Hahn believes the number will improve once more people become eligible to get the vaccine and vaccine availability increases.
Race and ethnicity data is one of many factors the state will be monitoring to ensure vaccine equity across the state.