COVID-19 vaccines for children: Racial and ethnic disparities in New York City

Brian Elbel, Lloyd Heng, Kevin J. Konty, Sophia E. Day, Michah W. Rothbart, Courtney Abrams, David C. Lee, Lorna E. Thorpe, Amy Ellen Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vaccination is an indispensable tool to reduce negative outcomes due to COVID-19. Although COVID-19 disproportionately affected lower income and Black and Hispanic communities, these groups have had lower population-level uptake of vaccines. Using detailed cross-sectional data, we examined racial and ethnic group differences in New York City schoolchildren becoming fully vaccinated (two doses) within 6 months of vaccine eligibility. We matched school enrollment data to vaccination data in the Citywide Immunization Registry, a census of all vaccinations delivered in New York City. We used ordinary least squares regression models to predict fully vaccinated status, with key predictors of race and ethnicity using a variety of different control variables, including residential neighborhood or school fixed effects. We also stratified by borough and by age. The sample included all New York City public school students enrolled during the 2021–2022 school year. Asian students were most likely to be vaccinated and Black and White students least likely. Controlling for student characteristics, particularly residential neighborhood or school attended, diminished some of the race and ethnicity differences. Key differences were also present by borough, both overall and by racial and ethnic groups. In sum, racial and ethnic disparities in children's COVID-19 vaccination were present. Vaccination rates varied by the geographic unit of borough; controlling for neighborhood characteristics diminished some disparities by race and ethnicity. Neighborhood demographics and resources, and the attributes, culture and preferences of those who live there may affect vaccination decisions and could be targets of future efforts to increase vaccination rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102357
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Child
  • Ethnicity
  • Neighborhood Characteristics
  • New York City
  • Race
  • Students
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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