Home Census Aligning vaccinations with new census numbers fixes obvious errors but lowers rates for city

Aligning vaccinations with new census numbers fixes obvious errors but lowers rates for city


A municipal drop box is set up to receive census forms in 2021. (Photo: Electoral Commission)

Cambridge’s updated population figures based on the 2020 census have deflated the city’s vaccination performance against Covid-19, with slightly lower vaccination percentages overall, but larger drops in vaccination figures. vaccination for certain age and racial and ethnic groups. The city used the updated numbers for the first time on Thursday, creating a different vaccination picture overnight.

Cambridge’s population has grown from 105,162 in 2010 to 118,403 in 2020, according to a Census Bureau announcement in August. Yet until now Cambridge Public Health had used lower population estimates from 2019 to calculate the percentage of Cambridge residents and those in demographic subgroups with at least one vaccine, fully vaccinated and boosted. Cambridge’s total population has been pegged at 111,989, which is 6,414 less than the 2020 figure.

These figures come from the state Department of Public Health, which delayed using the 2020 Census figures because it was concerned that Census Bureau adjustments to protect individuals’ privacy could “distort the data” when ‘they’re used to calculate rates and percentages,’ an official said last year.

Now the state is providing vaccination numbers to Cambridge and other communities based on a higher population. The new figures adopt the Census Bureau’s total population count of 118,403 for Cambridge, but it is unclear whether the demographic breakdown is different from the 2020 census figures.

It had been evident for months that some of the vaccination percentages in the city’s Covid-19 dashboard were wrong because the population numbers were too low – some age groups had more people vaccinated than the total number of this age group. For example, last October, the dashboard showed that there were more residents over the age of 75 who had received at least one vaccine than the total population over the age of 75. The gaps only widened as more and more people got vaccinated. This month, there were more teenagers aged 12 to 15 reported fully vaccinated than the total for that age group.

Since Thursday, this is no longer true. And the calculation means that the percentage of vaccinated has decreased. The decline was slight for Cambridge’s total population fully vaccinated – to 73% with the updated population figures, compared to 76% before the changes.

The impact of changes in certain demographic groups is greater. For example, after the switch, the proportion of fully immunized black residents fell to 77% from 84%; Hispanic residents at 56% vs. 69%; and Asians at 68% versus 73%.

Cambridge Public Health Department spokeswoman Dawn Baxter said the drop in vaccination rates for non-white residents was expected, since the 2020 census showed the population increasing for all demographic groups at the exception of white residents. Baxter said the health department continues to “target groups that may have greater barriers to access, and we’re confident we’re reaching a diverse group of residents.” Data as of 7/18/2022 indicates that of the vaccines the CPHD has administered to date, Hispanic, Black, and multiracial residents represent proportions equal to or greater than their representation of the city’s population.

The city’s announcement of the change noted the slight decreases in vaccination percentages for the total population and highlighted that there had been no change in the number of residents vaccinated. The more accurate population figures also mean more Cambridge residents have not been vaccinated.

For example, the updated figures correspond to nearly 32,000 Cambridge residents not fully vaccinated. Before the change, the number of people reported as not fully immune was around 26,000.

Infections and cases

In other coronavirus changes and developments, some nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the city recently reported more infections among residents and staff, and a resident of a long-term care facility without name died of the virus, according to Thursday’s report from the city. .

Tests whose results are reported to health authorities continue to fall sharply, following the global trend. There were 8,388 tests in Cambridge in the two weeks ending July 9, compared to 30,916 in the first two weeks of May, according to the city’s Covid-19 dashboard. Yet the percentage of people testing positive remained well above 7%; at the start of the pandemic, some public health experts said a positivity rate above 5% meant there was not enough testing.

The reported numbers have become a less reliable sign of transmission levels as more people use rapid home tests and do not report results to public health agencies, city health officials said. Virus levels in Cambridge sewage, which are not based on individual test results, show rising levels recently in three of the four wards.