Demographic Characteristics of Persons Vaccinated During the First Month of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program

United States, December 14, 2020-January 14, 2021

Elizabeth M. Painter, PhD; Emily N. Ussery, PhD; Anita Patel, PharmD; Michelle M. Hughes, PhD; Elizabeth R. Zell, MStat; Danielle L. Moulia, MPH; Lynn Gibbs Scharf, MPH; Michael Lynch, MD; Matthew D. Ritchey, DPT; Robin L. Toblin, PhD; Bhavini Patel Murthy, MD; LaTreace Q. Harris, MPH; Annemarie Wasley, ScD; Dale A. Rose, PhD; Amanda Cohn, MD; Nancy E. Messonnier, MD


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2021;70(5):174-177. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


In December 2020, two COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) were authorized for emergency use in the United States for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).* Because of limited initial vaccine supply, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) prioritized vaccination of health care personnel and residents and staff members of long-term care facilities (LTCF) during the first phase of the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination program.[1] Both vaccines require 2 doses to complete the series. Data on vaccines administered during December 14, 2020–January 14, 2021, and reported to CDC by January 26, 2021, were analyzed to describe demographic characteristics, including sex, age, and race/ethnicity, of persons who received ≥1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine (i.e., initiated vaccination). During this period, 12,928,749 persons in the United States in 64 jurisdictions and five federal entities§ initiated COVID-19 vaccination. Data on sex were reported for 97.0%, age for 99.9%, and race/ethnicity for 51.9% of vaccine recipients. Among persons who received the first vaccine dose and had reported demographic data, 63.0% were women, 55.0% were aged ≥50 years, and 60.4% were non-Hispanic White (White). 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. As the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination program expands, public health officials should ensure that vaccine is administered efficiently and equitably within each successive vaccination priority category, especially among those at highest risk for infection and severe adverse health outcomes, many of whom are non-Hispanic Black (Black), non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN), and Hispanic persons.[2,3]

Data on COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the United States are collected by vaccination providers and reported to CDC through multiple sources, including jurisdictions, pharmacies, and federal entities, who use various reporting methods including immunization information systems, Vaccine Administration Management System,** and direct data submission. Data on first vaccine doses administered during December 14, 2020–January 14, 2021, and reported to CDC by January 26, 2021, were analyzed to describe demographic characteristics, including sex, age, and race/ethnicity among persons who received ≥1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Age was calculated based on date or year of birth and date of vaccine administration and was categorized as <18, 18–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–64, 65–74, or ≥75 years. Race and ethnicity were combined and categorized as Hispanic/Latino, White, Black, non-Hispanic Asian (Asian), AI/AN, non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (NH/PI), non-Hispanic multiple/other,†† or unknown (if either race or ethnicity was reported as unknown§§ or not reported because of jurisdictional policy or law).¶¶ Analyses were conducted using SAS (version 9.4; SAS Institute).

During the first month of the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination program, 12,928,749 persons received at least 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine (Figure). Vaccination was initiated by persons in all 64 jurisdictions and five federal entities reporting data to CDC. Among 12,537,841 (97.0%) vaccine recipients with reported sex, 63.0% were women and 37.0% were men (Table). Among 12,924,116 (99.9%) persons whose age was known, 55.0% were aged ≥50 years, 16.8% were aged 40–49 years, and 28.2.% were aged 18–39 years. Among 6,706,697 (51.9%) persons whose race/ethnicity was known, 60.4% were White and 39.6% represented racial and ethnic minorities, including 14.4% categorized as multiple or other race/ethnicity, 11.5% Hispanic/Latino, 6.0% Asian, 5.4% Black, 2.0% AI/AN, and 0.3% NH/PI. Race/ethnicity was unknown or not reported for 6,222,052 (48.1%) persons initiating vaccination. Across jurisdictions and federal entities, the percentage of persons initiating vaccination with race/ethnicity that was unknown or not reported ranged from 0.2% to 100% (median = 39.6%; interquartile range = 25.3%–66.1%).


Number of persons initiating COVID-19 vaccination, by date of vaccine administration (N = 12,928,749) — United States, December 14, 2020–January 14, 2021*
Abbreviation: COVID-19 = coronavirus disease 2019.
*Vaccines administered December 14, 2020–January 14, 2021, and reported to CDC by January 26, 2021.

Health care personnel include persons working in settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient clinics, public health clinics, emergency medical services, and pharmacies.
§Sixty-four jurisdictions include 50 states, the District of Columbia, five cities (Chicago, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Houston, and New York City), and eight territories or freely associated states; five federal entities also received a direct allocation of vaccine (Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State, Indian Health Services, and Veterans Health Administration) and report administration data to CDC.
††Represents persons identified as being non-Hispanic and having multiple race categories selected or non-Hispanic and "other race" selected.
§§If ethnicity was identified as Hispanic and race was unknown, the person was classified as Hispanic.
¶¶Race/ethnicity was not reported because of jurisdictional policy or law or was unknown for all persons initiating vaccination in six jurisdictions.