Major healthcare groups are calling for the industry to redouble efforts to collect and report race and ethnicity data when administering COVID-19 vaccinations.
In an open letter, the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the American Pharmacists Association (APA) noted that improved data collection is critical to ensure access to vaccines in vulnerable populations and improving vaccine confidence.
Black Americans are still receiving covid vaccinations at dramatically lower rates than white Americans even as the chaotic rollout reaches more people, according to a new KHN analysis.
Race and ethnicity data provides critical information to clinicians, healthcare organizations, public health agencies and policymakers, allowing them to equitably allocate resources across all communities, evaluate health outcomes and improve quality of care and delivery of public health services, the groups said.
Data from the first month of the vaccine rollout indicates that race and ethnicity information is missing in almost half of vaccination records reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While there are some barriers and challenges to collecting race and ethnicity data, healthcare professionals are critical in asking for the data due to the trust patients have in providers' work.
"We encourage clinicians to share with patients in a transparent and culturally sensitive manner why collecting race and ethnicity information can help improve the health of their families and communities. These actions reinforce our commitment to high-quality equitable care," the groups said.
Healthcare disparities have become a key focus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Systemic racism and routine exposures to discrimination within the healthcare system have produced an environment in which Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Indigenous communities have historically been underserved by and do not always trust the existing healthcare infrastructure, the healthcare groups said.
The CDC and other researchers have determined that these long-standing injustices have unfairly and disproportionately impacted racial and ethnic populations, putting them at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. Collecting and analyzing race and ethnicity data can help to ensure accountability to affected communities, the AMA and ANA said.