Disparities in COVID-19 Disease Incidence by Income and Vaccination Coverage - 81 Communities, Los Angeles, California, July 2020-September 2021

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2023 Jun 30;72(26):728-731. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7226a5.


COVID-19 has disproportionately affected socially vulnerable communities characterized by lower income, lower education attainment, and higher proportions of minority populations, among other factors (1-4). Disparities in COVID-19 incidence and the impact of vaccination on incidence disparities by community income were assessed among 81 communities in Los Angeles, California. Median community vaccination coverage and COVID-19 incidence were calculated across household income strata using a generalized linear mixed effects model with Poisson distribution during three COVID-19 surge periods: two before vaccine availability (July 2020 and January 2021) and the third after vaccines became widely available in April 2021 (September 2021). Adjusted incidence rate ratios (aIRRs) during the peak month of each surge were compared across communities grouped by median household income percentile. The aIRR between communities in the lowest and highest median income deciles was 6.6 (95% CI = 2.8-15.3) in July 2020 and 4.3 (95% CI = 1.8-9.9) in January 2021. However, during the September 2021 surge that occurred after vaccines became widely availabile, model estimates did not identify an incidence disparity between the highest- and lowest-income communities (aIRR = 0.80; 95% CI = 0.35-1.86). During this surge, vaccination coverage was lowest (59.4%) in lowest-income communities and highest (71.5%) in highest-income communities (p<0.001). However, a significant interaction between income and vaccination on COVID-19 incidence (p<0.001) indicated that the largest effect of vaccination on disease incidence occured in the lowest-income communities. A 20% increase in community vaccination was estimated to have resulted in an additional 8.1% reduction in COVID-19 incidence in the lowest-income communities compared with that in the highest-income communities. These findings highlight the importance of improving access to vaccination and reducing vaccine hesitancy in underserved communities in reducing disparities in COVID-19 incidence.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Income
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Vaccination Coverage*