Harris County Equity Efforts Significantly Enhancing COVID-19 Vaccine Access for Vulnerable Residents

New Data Show Considerable Demographic Gaps in Distribution Between Harris County Public Health Distribution Compared to Other Vaccine Providers; Judge Hidalgo Urges Every Vaccine Provider To Join County/City Efforts to Prioritize Access and Outreach for Hard-hit and Vulnerable Residents

March 25, 2021, County Judge Lina Hidalgo today released updated demographic data indicating that Harris County Public Health Department (HCPH) vaccination efforts far outpace those of other providers (not including the City of Houston) in ensuring that vulnerable and hard-hit populations are receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to data from HCPH and the ImmTrac Texas Immunization Registry, HCPH’s vaccine distribution is reaching a higher proportion of vulnerable individuals compared to vaccine providers in Harris County overall. The Black and Hispanic populations are still being vaccinated by Harris County Public Health at lower rates than needed to match population demographics for the county, though Harris County Public Health is making great strides with these demographics, compared to other providers. 17.5% of people administered with at least one dose by HCPH have been Black / African American residents as compared to only 9.8% by other providers. 31.1% of people administered with at least one dose by HCPH have been Hispanic / Latino residents, compared to only 19.9% by other providers. The overall percentage of Black residents in Harris County is 18.7% and Hispanic residents make up 43.3% of the population.

Race / Ethnicity Overall Percentage of Population Harris County Public Health Dept. Vaccine Distribution All Providers
American Indian / Alaskan Native 0.2% 0.19% 0.25%
Asian American / Pacific Islander 7.1% 13.11% 9.86%
Black / African American 18.7% 17.6% 9.84%
Hispanic / Latino 43.3% 31.15% 22.11%
Multi-racial 1.6% .83% 2.49%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander N/A .11% N/A
Other 0.3% N/A 9.03%
White 28.9% 35.34% 34.5%
Unknown N/A 1.69% 11.9%


*Data Sources: Harris County Public Health (HCPH), ImmTrac Texas Immunization Registry, U.S. Census
**As of 3/24/21
In response, Judge Hidalgo called upon all providers of COVID-19 vaccines to do more to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“The fastest and fairest way for Harris County to emerge from this crisis is by ensuring that everyone does their part to make sure everyone has access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines.  It’s not a mystery to anyone which populations and parts of our county have been hit hardest by this pandemic. Every organization that administers vaccines has a moral responsibility to make sure they’re working to provide access through efficiency, equity, and fairness. That’s the fastest way our entire community can emerge from this crisis and get life back to normal. The County and the City of Houston will keep doing our part to push harder, but we need others to join us, too. We also need every resident who may feel hesitant to get vaccinated to step up, learn about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and sign up to get vaccinated.”

Since the arrival of COVID-19, Judge Hidalgo has directed all county departments to ensure efficiency, equity and fairness for its response efforts. As part of this effort, last month, Harris County released a vaccine equity strategy, which outlines how the county is supporting equity when it comes to the registration, allocation, and outreach for COVID-19 vaccines. As part of the strategy, Harris County is using a “smart waitlist” system designed to prioritize access for vulnerable populations through a prioritization and randomization process. The process prioritizes access for 25 zip codes that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and have high levels of social vulnerability, according to the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index (SVI). Harris County is also conducting direct outreach through a comprehensive media campaign and distributing vaccines using mobile units to reach vulnerable populations where they are.