Geographically targeted COVID-19 vaccination is more equitable and averts more deaths than age-based thresholds alone

Sci Adv. 2021 Oct;7(40):eabj2099. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abj2099. Epub 2021 Sep 29.


COVID-19 mortality increases markedly with age and is also substantially higher among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) populations in the United States. These two facts can have conflicting implications because BIPOC populations are younger than white populations. In analyses of California and Minnesota—demographically divergent states—we show that COVID vaccination schedules based solely on age benefit the older white populations at the expense of younger BIPOC populations with higher risk of death from COVID-19. We find that strategies that prioritize high-risk geographic areas for vaccination at all ages better target mortality risk than age-based strategies alone, although they do not always perform as well as direct prioritization of high-risk racial/ethnic groups. Vaccination schemas directly implicate equitability of access, both domestically and globally.