David Lazer, NULab co-director and University Distinguished Professor of political science and computer and information sciences at Northeastern, had an article published in The Washington Post on April 7, regarding the disparity between census data and CDC reports on COVID-19 vaccination rates. Lazer highlighted the CDC data on vaccination rates for people 65 years and older for 26 states (including all of New England) indicate total numbers of vaccinated individuals are running above 100 percent. However, the CDC presents these figures as 95% of people 65 years and older. Lazer argues that the CDC statistics fail to link individuals to doses, meaning the first doses are significantly overestimated.
Lazer argues that this issue is true across all age groups in the CDC statistics, it is just most noticeable in the age group 65 and over because of the very high rate of vaccination for that group. This inaccuracy of the CDC data has wide reaching implications for science, politics, and policy. Lazer reveals how this data is utilized as the “ground truth” by outlets such as Nature and the Mayo Clinic. This data may misinform estimates of how effective vaccines are, and how vulnerable various populations may be to another covid-19 wave. Lazer posits that the U.S. government is far better at collecting economic data than they are for public health.