Quantifying inequities in COVID-19 vaccine distribution over time by social vulnerability, race and ethnicity, and location: A populationlevel analysis in St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri

Aaloke Mody, Cory Bradley, Salil Redkar, Branson Fox, Ingrid Eshun-Wilson, Matifadza G. Hlatshwayo, Anne Trolard, Khai Hoan Tram, Lindsey M. Filiatreau, Franda Thomas, Matt Haslam, George Turabelidze, Vetta Sanders-Thompson, William G. Powderly, Elvin H. Geng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background Equity in vaccination coverage is a cornerstone for a successful public health response to COVID-19. To deepen understanding of the extent to which vaccination coverage compares with initial strategies for equitable vaccination, we explore primary vaccine series and booster rollout over time and by race/ethnicity, social vulnerability, and geography. Methods and findings We analyzed data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on all COVID-19 vaccinations administered across 7 counties in the St. Louis region and 4 counties in the Kansas City region. We compared rates of receiving the primary COVID-19 vaccine series and boosters relative to time, race/ethnicity, zip-code-level Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), vaccine location type, and COVID-19 disease burden. We adapted a wellestablished tool for measuring inequity-the Lorenz curve-to quantify inequities in COVID- 19 vaccination relative to these key metrics. Between 15 December 2020 and 15 February 2022, 1,763,036 individuals completed the primary series and 872,324 received a booster. During early phases of the primary series rollout, Black and Hispanic individuals from high SVI zip codes were vaccinated at less than half the rate of White individuals from low SVI zip codesAU : IchangedwerevaccinatedatlessthanhalftherateofWhiteindividualstowerevaccinatedatlessthanhalftherateofWhiteindividualsfromlowSVIz, but rates increased over time until they were higher than rates inWhite individuals after June 2021; Asian individuals maintained high levels of vaccination throughout. Increasing vaccination rates in Black and Hispanic communities corresponded with periods when more vaccinations were offered at small community-based sites such as pharmacies rather than larger health systems and mass vaccination sites. Using Lorenz curvesAU : Pleasecheckthattheeditstothesentence}, zip codes in the quartile with the lowest rates of primary series completion accounted for 19.3%, 18.1%, 10.8%, and 8.8% of vaccinations while representing 25% of the total population, cases, deaths, or population-level SVI, respectively. When tracking Gini coefficients, these disparities were greatest earlier during rollout, but improvements were slow and modest and vaccine disparities remained across all metrics even after 1 year. Patterns of disparities for boosters were similar but often of much greater magnitude during rollout in fall 2021. Study limitations include inherent limitations in the vaccine registry dataset such as missing and misclassified race/ethnicity and zip code variables and potential changes in zip code population sizes since census enumeration. Conclusions Inequities in the initial COVID-19 vaccination and booster rollout AinU2 :laIrcgheanUgSedmRaectrioalpinoeliqtaunity . . .wereapparentacrossracial=areas were apparent across racial/ethnic communities, across levels of social vulnerability, over time, and across types of vaccination administration sites. Disparities in receipt of the primary vaccine series attenuated over time during a period in which sites of vaccination administration diversified, but were recapitulated during booster rollout. These findings highlight how public health strategies from the outset must directly target these deeply embedded structural and systemic determinants of disparities and track equity metrics over time to avoid perpetuating inequities in healthcare access.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1004048
JournalPLoS medicine
Volume19
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2022

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