Childhood and adult vaccination rates in Massachusetts: A dataset for advocates, physicians, policy makers, and researchers

Achieving real vaccine equity in Massachusetts

By many accounts, Massachusetts stands out as one of the top five states in fully vaccinating its citizens. To date, 4.3 million residents are fully vaccinated. However, a deeper dive into this data reveals stark disparities in vaccination rates. Overcoming the myriad barriers to getting shots into residents’ arms will have a profound public health impact. Now is the time to set a lofty but practical goal. Fully vaccinating more than 5 million Massachusetts residents (75-80% of our citizenry) is doable and the state can reach this critical goal well before all of our youngest children become eligible for the vaccine, which is expected to occur sometime in the fall.

We strongly believe that Massachusetts advocates, physicians, policymakers, and researchers need town-wide and regional data weekly to observe their progress and attain a goal of greater than 75% vaccination. We have gathered Massachusetts Department of Public Health data on: a) the number of cases in each of the 351 Massachusetts communities starting in February 2020 and continuing through the end of April 2021; b) the number of weekly vaccinations among individuals ages 12-15, 16-19, and 20+ for all 351 communities; and c) data from the statewide 2019 census to describe each community by median household income and race/ethnicity. We have combined all of these data sources into an easy-to-navigate data set that can be useful for advocates, physicians, policymakers, and researchers. To date, we have shared this data with all 351 school district superintendents, mayors, and boards of health, and will soon distribute it to state legislators representing these communities. We have also shared the data with numerous researchers and those from various professional organizations, such as the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

If you have any questions about the database or would like further information, please feel free to contact: Alan Geller, Senior Lecturer, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, ageller@hsph.harvard.edu


Key takeaways

  • Towns and cities (communities) in Massachusetts with the highest rates of COVID-19 have the lowest rates of vaccination for children and adults—in fact, there is generally a 20% difference in vaccination rates between communities with high and low numbers of COVID-19 cases.
  • Communities in Massachusetts with the lowest median household income and the greatest proportion of minority residents have the lowest rates of vaccination for both children and adults.
  • There are important outliers. For example, cities such as Chelsea and Framingham—both beset by COVID-19—have vaccination rates that are higher than the state average. Lessons can be learned from these cities for getting vaccination rates even higher in similar communities.
  • Rates of vaccinations among Massachusetts’ youngest residents are generally predicted by the earlier rates of vaccination among adults in the same communities.
  • Vaccination rates are beginning to plateau: In the week-long period ending June 25, 43,000 Massachusetts residents received their first vaccine, compared with 325,000 who did so six weeks earlier.
  • Certain geographic areas, such as many of the Gateway Cities and large segments of Bristol and Plymouth counties, have lower rates of vaccinations than the rest of the state.
  • Many of the state’s most affluent communities vaccinated more than 80% of their children within one month of eligibility.

Links to download data:

Dropbox Google sheets

Data through August 5, 2021.