Research Brief

In Minnesota, fewer white people are vaccinated for COVID-19 than most racial groups — but still less likely to die of COVID-19

Covid vaccine patient
Credit: Getty Images

New research from the University of Minnesota shows that Black, Hispanic and Asian populations are significantly more likely to die of COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status at the population level. 

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, examined Minnesota death certificates between March 2020 and April 2022, vaccination data from the Minnesota Department of Health, and population data from the National Center for Health Statistics. 

The researchers found:

  • Black, Hispanic and Asian adults under age 65 in Minnesota were more highly vaccinated than white populations of the same age group. 
  • During the Delta period (July 2021-December 2021) and Omicron period (January 2022-April 2022), white mortality rates were significantly lower than those of all other groups. 
  • In Black, Hispanic and Asian populations, COVID-19 mortality at ages 55-64 was greater than white mortality at ages 65-74. Since COVID-19 mortality risk rises sharply with age, this comparison underscores the high mortality rates in middle-aged populations of color, despite their relatively high vaccination rates.

“We may be currently living through a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated,’ but it's also still a ‘pandemic of the disadvantaged,’” said Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, lead author of the paper and an assistant professor of sociology in the U of M College of Liberal Arts. 

The framing of a “pandemic of the disadvantaged” emphasizes the need for sustained, population-based COVID-19 prevention strategies that center on health equity.

"There is no question that communities of color continue to be hit the hardest at every stage of this pandemic," said JP Leider, director of the Center for Public Health Systems in the School of Public Health and an author of the study. "Even with lower vaccination rates, white Minnesotans have lower COVID-19 mortality rates than BIPOC Minnesotans with higher vaccination rates. That's not biology — that's society."

Future research will seek to understand why Minnesota’s Black, Hispanic and Asian communities have a higher COVID-19 mortality rate, even with high vaccination rates.

This research was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Aging, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. 


About The University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts 
For more than 150 years, the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) has played a central and enduring role in shaping lives, for the good of Minnesota and the world. CLA is the largest college in the University of Minnesota system with nearly 500 world-class faculty instructing more than 12,000 undergraduate and 1,400 graduate students. CLA is home to 31 academic departments and 20+ interdisciplinary research centers in the arts, social sciences, and humanities. Learn more at

About the School of Public Health
The University of Minnesota School of Public Health improves the health and wellbeing of populations and communities around the world by bringing innovative research, learning, and concrete actions to today’s biggest health challenges. We prepare some of the most influential leaders in the field, and partner with health departments, communities, and policymakers to advance health equity for all. Learn more at

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