Racial Disparities Persist in N.H.'s Vaccine Rollout, According to New Data | New Hampshire Public Radio

Racial Disparities Persist in N.H.'s Vaccine Rollout, According to New Data

Apr 1, 2021

New Hampshire continues to see persistent racial disparities in its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, according to the latest data from the state health department.

(If you have questions about getting vaccinated, check out NHPR's COVID-19 vaccine guide here.)

As of March 28, only about 10 percent of New Hampshire’s Black and Latino residents have received their first dose of the vaccine, compared to about 22 percent of white residents. The coverage rate for Asian American residents falls in between, at about 15 percent.

The same pattern holds when looking full vaccinations: White residents are much farther ahead than any other group, receiving the vaccine at more than twice the rate of Black and Latino residents.

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Black and Latino residents in New Hampshire have faced higher rates of infection and death from COVID-19, according to state data, echoing patterns of inequality seen across the country.

State officials have said the local vaccination coverage gaps could be explained in part by New Hampshire’s vaccine strategy: Until recently, shots were only available to the general public over age 65, and that population is whiter compared to younger age groups.

“If you really wanted to understand what the race and ethnicity vaccination coverage is in our state, it would be important to take an age-based approach to look at that,” Dr. Beth Daly, chief of the state bureau of infectious disease control, said at a recent press conference.

But Daly said she suspects that data “could still show that there is variability, based on race and ethnicity,” which is why the state has also been setting aside 10 percent of its vaccine supply for communities at disproportionate risk for the coronavirus, including racial and ethnic minorities.

Regional public health networks across the state have been leading the effort to improve vaccine access for people of color. Some community groups are also trying to help make the sign-up process easier: Black Lives Matter Seacoast and other organizations are collecting contact information from people of color who want a vaccine, and passing that information onto local health networks.

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New data from state health officials provides, for the first time, a clearer — if unsurprising — picture of vaccine coverage across different age groups in New Hampshire. This new age-based data isn’t broken down by race or ethnicity, so it doesn’t provide any further insight into why white residents are so much farther ahead than other groups.

As expected based on the state’s vaccine strategy, adults over age 65 are covered at much higher rates than any other age group. But the data released by the state this week doesn’t account for vaccines distributed through federal programs, including one targeting residents of long-term care facilities, so the actual rates of vaccine coverage among older adults are likely even higher.

More than 70 percent of New Hampshire residents between ages 65 and 84 have received at least one shot, and about 40 percent of them are fully vaccinated. The state’s data puts that age bracket ahead of every other group, including those over age 85 — though state officials caution that this could be because their data doesn’t account for doses distributed through the federal long-term care vaccination program.

As of March 28, about a quarter of residents between ages 55 and 64 had received at least one shot, and a little under one-fifth of those between ages 35 and 54 could say the same.

New Hampshire opened up universal vaccine eligibility to those over age 50 for the first time on March 22. By April 2, anyone over age 16 will be able to register for their vaccine.

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New Hampshire is also seeing a gender gap in its vaccine rates, according to the latest state data. As of March 28, about 28 percent of New Hampshire women received at least one shot and about 15 percent were fully vaccinated. In contrast, only about 20 percent of New Hampshire men received their first shot and 10 percent were fully vaccinated.

This echoes the findings of a recent University of New Hampshire poll, which found that women were “slightly more likely than men … to say they are partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey in March found sharp partisan differences in vaccine confidence, with nearly half of Republican men reporting that they would not get the shots when offered, compared to about 36 percent of independent men and 6 percent of Democratic men. Republican women were less likely than men to say they’d refuse a vaccine when offered, while Democratic women were slightly more likely than Democratic men to say they would not get a shot, according to the poll.

(Read more: Your Guide to Coronavirus Vaccines in New Hampshire)