Socioeconomic privilege and political ideology are associated with racial disparity in COVID-19 vaccination

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Aug 17;118(33):e2107873118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2107873118.


Vaccine uptake is critical for mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in the United States, but structural inequities pose a serious threat to progress. Racial disparities in vaccination persist despite the increased availability of vaccines. We ask what factors are associated with such disparities. We combine data from state, federal, and other sources to estimate the relationship between social determinants of health and racial disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations at the county level. Analyzing vaccination data from 19 April 2021, when nearly half of the US adult population was at least partially vaccinated, we find associations between racial disparities in COVID-19 vaccination and median income (negative), disparity in high school education (positive), and vote share for the Republican party in the 2020 presidential election (negative), while vaccine hesitancy is not related to disparities. We examine differences in associations for COVID-19 vaccine uptake as compared with influenza vaccine. Key differences include an amplified role for socioeconomic privilege factors and political ideology, reflective of the unique societal context in which the pandemic has unfolded.

Keywords: COVID-19; racial disparity; social determinants of health; vaccination.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control
  • COVID-19 / psychology*
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Influenza Vaccines / pharmacology
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Pandemics
  • Politics*
  • Race Factors
  • Racism
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vaccination / economics
  • Vaccination / psychology*
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Influenza Vaccines