Nature Medicine  |  May 18, 2021

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Many vaccine rationing guidelines urge planners to recognize, and ideally reduce, inequities. In the United States, allocation frameworks are determined by each of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 64 jurisdictions (50 states, the District of Columbia, five cities and eight territories). In this study, we analyzed vaccine allocation plans published by 8 November 2020, tracking updates through to 30 March 2021. We evaluated whether jurisdictions adopted proposals to reduce inequity using disadvantage indices and related place-based measures. By 30 March 2021, 14 jurisdictions had prioritized specific zip codes in combination with metrics such as COVID-19 incidence, and 37 jurisdictions (including 34 states) had adopted disadvantage indices, compared to 19 jurisdictions in November 2020. Uptake of indices doubled from 7 to 14 among the jurisdictions with the largest shares of disadvantaged communities. Five applications were distinguished: (1) prioritizing disadvantaged groups through increased shares of vaccines or vaccination appointments; (2) defining priority groups or areas; (3) tailoring outreach and communication; (4) planning the location of dispensing sites; and (5) monitoring receipt. To ensure that equity features centrally in allocation plans, policymakers at the federal, state and local levels should universalize the uptake of disadvantage indices and related place-based measures.

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