CDC data may inflate early doses and undercounting boosters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which millions of Americans rely on for up-to-date information on immunization rates in ...


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which millions of Americans rely on for up-to-date information on immunization rates in their communities, recently acknowledged that its data could overestimate the number of people who received the first doses while underestimating the number of people who received the first doses. received booster shots.

The recognition was easy to miss, tucked away in footnotes at the bottom of the immunization tracking page on the CDC website. He said that in light of the possible mistake, the agency would cap its estimates of vaccination rates at 95%. Previously, it had capped its estimates at 99.9% and, for example, showed a national vaccination rate of 99.9% for people 65 and older, which experts said was clearly inaccurate.

CDC data on vaccination rates is still considered reliable, especially in terms of the number of Americans fully vaccinated, experts say.

The main reason for the discrepancies is that state and county data, which the CDC relies on to compile its statistics, does not always correctly link the record of people’s booster shots to the records of their initial immunizations. When the two are not connected, the reminder is recorded as if it were the first dose given to a previously unvaccinated person.

This can happen when people go to a different location for a booster injection than their original series of injections. This often happens when people move or the place where they received their first doses no longer exists, as is the case with many government-sponsored mass vaccination sites that shut down after a few months. Sometimes a different location for a booster is chosen just because it’s more convenient.

The data reported to the CDC is devoid of personal information, which makes it difficult to detect and correct such errors.

“Even with the high-quality data that the CDC receives from jurisdictions and federal entities, there are limits to how the CDC can analyze this data,” the agency said in one of its footnotes of page. The note added that people receiving boosters at a different location were “just one example of how CDC data can overestimate early doses and underestimate boosters.”

A broader reporting challenge is that the methodology varies from state to state. Some, for example, register prisoners in the county where they are incarcerated, while others register them in the county where they previously lived. These practices don’t always match how the census counts prisoners – and the CDC uses census counts as denominators to calculate vaccination rates.

Take Crowley County, Colorado, for example. The county is home to a state prison that can accommodate nearly 1,900 people. Colorado counts these prisoners at their last legal address, and not in Crowley County (unless, of course, they lived in Crowley prior to being incarcerated).

This means that the state calculates the county’s vaccination rate by dividing the number of vaccinations by the number of residents excluding prisoners. But when Colorado reports its data to the CDC, the agency divides the number of vaccinations by the census count, which includes prisoners.

Since the county has less than 6,000 residents, this change in denominator makes a huge difference, giving an immunization rate of just over 20% in CDC data but close to 50% in Colorado data.

Amy Schoenfeld Walker and Danielle Ivory contributed reports.

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Newsrust - US Top News: CDC data may inflate early doses and undercounting boosters
CDC data may inflate early doses and undercounting boosters
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