At least 83% of Alabama’s Black population lived in counties where life expectancy among Black people did not meet age requirements for vaccine eligibility, according to a CNN analysis.
Before Monday, only frontline essential workers, long-term care residents and staff, and people 75 and older were eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in Alabama.
Yet, in 47 of the state’s 67 counties, life expectancy among Black people is less than 75 years, according to data from County Health Rankings, a collaborative project between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Life expectancy for White people in Alabama, however, is less than 75 years in only 25 counties.
Data was not available for 10 of the state’s counties.
As of Monday, Alabama moved to Phase 1c of its Covid-19 vaccination plan, which expanded eligibility to those older than 65, 16- to 64-year-olds with high-risk medical conditions, and all other essential workers.
However, as of Tuesday, 15 states had age limits of 70 or older for vaccine eligibility. Data is not available for most counties, but in at least four counties in those states, life expectancies for Black people who do not meet the eligibility for vaccination. This was true in even more counties in earlier phases of the vaccine rollout.
Less than half of states provide race and ethnicity data about who has been vaccinated publicly. Alabama is not one of them, though the state health department told CNN more information should be expected on the public dashboard this week.
A recent CNN analysis of data from 14 states showed that vaccine coverage is, on average, more than twice as high among White people than it is among Black people. This is happening even as Black Americans are dying at nearly three times the rate of White people from Covid-19, and being hospitalized at a rate nearly four times higher, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A CDC report last week found that race and ethnicity were unknown for about half of the individuals vaccinated in the first month that Covid-19 vaccine was available. Of those for whom race and ethnicity were reported, about 60% were non-Hispanic White and about 5.4% were Black.
“More complete reporting of race and ethnicity data at the provider and jurisdictional levels is critical to ensure rapid detection of and response to potential disparities in COVID-19 vaccination,” the CDC said.