Fri 2021-Jul-16

The Highest-Vaccination Ethnic Group in the US

Tagged: COVID / MathInTheNews / PharmaAndBiotech / Politics / Statistics

What ethnic group in the US do you think has the highest vaccination rate?

COVID-19 and Native Americans

PBS/NOVA (WGBH): Native Americans have highest COVID vax rate in US

According to an article from PBS/NOVA [1], Native Americans had 3.5x the infection rate and 4x the hospitalization rate of white Americans, they nonetheless responded heroically with an enormous vaccination effort for their members, and frankly for anybody who happened to be standing nearby. This is both responsible to tribal citizens and generous to those tribal non-citizens who are affiliated with them or work with them.

The CDC has begun reporting vaccination rates broken down by ethnic group. As of July 6, the breakdown of vaccination rates by ethnic group in the US is, according to the CDC:

Ethnic Group % Single Dose % Fully Vaccinated
Native American 45.5% 39.1%
Asians 36.6% 35.0%
Whites 33.7% 32.2%
Hawaiian/Pacific 35.9% 31.3%
Hispanic 31.8% 28.3%
Black 25.8% 23.2%

Note that the Native American vaccination rate is higher than the average rate in 28 states, including the states with high Native American populations. Basically, they’re just ahead of the pack, and that’s a good thing for them.

There were, of course, problems:

  • For example, the CDC guidelines for vaccine distribution went more or less by age or complicating medical condition. The Native Americans preferred to prioritize their culture keepers, i.e., those fluent in their languages, knowledgeable about their traditions, prominent officiators in their ceremonies, etc. Those are predominantly, but not exclusively, elders. So they wanted to distribute vaccines in a slightly different order according to their cultural needs. This was entirely sensible.
  • Another issue was Native Americans living in cities, away from their home tribes. They could go home and get vaccinated early, but run the risk of carrying COVID-19 to their families. So that had to be worked out, with careful quarantine. Again, eminently sensible.

A Sense of Generosity and Plenty

Most interestingly to me was the near-universal decision across tribes to share vaccine doses with those who lived with, worked with, or were otherwise affiliated with tribal citizens. In the rest of the world, people got pretty nasty about pushing to the front of the line, while Native Americans expanded the circle of their people to include their neighbors.

And that, ladies and gentlemen… is how it is done.

Notes & References

1: S Bennett, “American Indians have the highest Covid vaccination rate in the US”, PBS Nova (WGBH), 2021-Jul-06.

Published Fri 2021-Jul-16

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