GAO Examines Federal Efforts to Provide COVID-19 Vaccines to Racial and Ethnic Groups

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) this week released a report entitled, “COVID-19: Federal Efforts to Provide Vaccines to Racial and Ethnic Groups” as part of its ongoing oversight efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. GAO examined COVID-19 vaccination efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of its report.

The GAO notes each of the agencies’ programs took steps to provide COVID-19 vaccines to underserved and historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups, such as by using data on race and ethnicity when selecting vaccination sites. CDC, HRSA, and FEMA data suggest that the agencies’ efforts vaccinated varying shares of racial and ethnic groups. Specifically, GAO’s analysis of the CDC’s retail pharmacy program found that 43 percent of people vaccinated through the program were from racial and ethnic groups other than non-Hispanic White populations, as of September 2021.

The CDC exceeded its goal to administer at least 40 percent – the approximate percent of the U.S. population comprised of racial and ethnic groups other than non-Hispanic White – of COVID-19 vaccines through its retail pharmacy program. However, comparisons between program vaccination data and U.S. population percentages suggest that some racial and ethnic groups, such as non-Hispanic Black persons, represented a smaller share of persons vaccinated through each of the three federal agencies.

The full GAO report is available here.