Medicaid enrollees continue to get vaccinated against COVID at far lower rates than the general population despite vigorous outreach efforts by government officials and private organizations to get low-income people inoculated, according to data from several states.
That leaves many Medicaid enrollees — who tend to be sicker than those with private insurance — at higher risk for severe illness, hospitalization, or death from the virus.
Nationally, more than 215 million Americans — including 75% of adults and 57% of children ages 12 to 17 — are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among children 5 to 11 years old, who have only been eligible for a shot since early November, about 25% have been fully vaccinated. A vaccine has not yet been authorized for children younger than 5.
There is no nationwide compilation of how many Medicaid enrollees have been vaccinated.
But in Utah — one of a handful of states that publish that data — fewer than half of adult Medicaid enrollees are fully vaccinated.
Disparities exist in every age and racial/ethnic group that the state publishes data on. For example, about 40% of Black Medicaid enrollees are vaccinated, compared with 56% of Black people overall. Among Hispanics, 38% of Medicaid enrollees are vaccinated, compared with 51% of the overall Hispanic population. (Hispanic people can be of any race or combination of races.) Among children 12 to 18, about 35% of Medicaid enrollees are vaccinated, compared with 57% overall.
Officials at Molina Healthcare, which is one of Utah’s four Medicaid managed-care plans and has about 90,000 members, said overcoming resistance to the COVID vaccine has been difficult. One of the biggest hurdles is getting in touch with members. Molina officials told a Utah Medicaid advisory board in January that they can’t reach 40% of their members because they don’t have correct addresses or phone numbers.