The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced that the COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities page has been updated to include vaccination data, in addition to existing data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths by group. The data underscore health inequities disproportionately affecting communities of color in Wisconsin.
“This pandemic has highlighted existing gaps in opportunities people across our state and across our nation have to keep themselves and their families safe from COVID-19, including barriers to accessing life-saving COVID-19 vaccines,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “The data show that we still have work to do to ensure those Wisconsinites that have been hit hardest by the pandemic have the opportunity and resources to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus.”
Vaccinations by race and ethnicity are currently available at the state and county level on the COVID-19 Vaccines for Wisconsin Residents dashboard. Including this data with other COVID-19 health outcomes better illustrates the full effect of this pandemic on communities of color and how health inequities play out in the state’s fight against COVID-19. Users will now have the option to view COVID-19 vaccination rates by race and ethnicity, in addition to the existing rates of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. All rates are also now adjustable by age, which is a major risk factor for hospitalization and death from COVID-19. This allows us to view age groups that still may be at greater risk because they are experiencing more severe disease and death or lower vaccination rates among younger populations.
While Wisconsin continues to be a national leader in getting available supply of COVID-19 vaccine into arms, vaccination rates are lagging behind statewide totals in communities that have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Systemic and structural barriers can make it harder for certain communities to get vaccinated. These include lack of transportation, inability to take time off of work, vaccine misinformation, or language barriers. At the same time, medical racism and historical trauma can drive vaccine hesitancy in marginalized communities.
DHS, along with our local and tribal partners, actively continues to work to address these disparities and minimize barriers to vaccine access. As part of our Vaccination Outreach grant program, DHS awarded $6.2 million to trusted partner organizations across Wisconsin that are working to build vaccine confidence, engage in targeted outreach, and reduce barriers that hinder vaccine access for marginalized or underserved Wisconsinites. In addition, DHS is supporting community-based vaccination clinics, the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, and mobile vaccination teams. Increased deployment of mobile vaccination teams has allowed for more vaccination in well-known local spaces, like employers, schools, events, places of worship, and more, offering greater convenience and vaccination among trusted social circles.
Getting A COVID-19 Vaccine
As a reminder, the COVID-19 vaccines are free to everyone and you do not need to present a valid ID at your vaccination appointment. To find a vaccine provider near you, go to vaccines.gov or call 211 (or 877-947-2211).
For up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage. We encourage you to follow @DHSWI on Facebook, Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram for more information on COVID-19.