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Washington COVID vaccination rate flatlines

It appears unlikely Washington state will reach its goal of 70% vaccinated by June 30.



[OLYMPIA] – (MTN) Hopes that Washington state could go to full reopening before June 30 crumbled today after the Washington Department of Health Updated the COVID Dashboard. According to the Department of Health, 68.0% of Washingtonians 16-years old and older have had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. Governor Jay Inslee has previously announced the state would end almost all COVID business and health restrictions on June 30 or if the state achieved a 70% vaccination rate earlier.

Last week the state reported 67.8% had already received their first dose, and approximately 134,000 more residents over 16 needed to get the COVID vaccine. Based on existing vaccination rates, in theory, the state could have moved to reopen on June 25. Instead, it appears Washington will fall short of the 70% goal as residents who got their first dose have slowed to a snail’s pace.

It isn’t all bad news. According to the Biden Administration, over 70% of all residents in Washington over 18 have had at least once COVID dose, joining 12 other states in reaching the milestone. King County was the largest county in the United States to have over 70% of residents vaccinated, achieving King County Health’s goal on June 15.

The slowdown is happening nationally as the Delta variant of COVID is quickly becoming the dominant strain. Many people testing positive for COVID are unvaccinated, and hospitals report 95% to 99% of COVID patients are unvaccinated. Over 34 million Americans have had COVID, and up to 10 million suffer from long-term effects of the illness, known as COVID long haulers. Over 602,000 have died.

A number of false rumors have circulated over the last six months about the COVID vaccine. Disproven claims have included the vaccine includes microchips from Microsoft, trackers that connect to 5G, metal flakes that turn you magnetic, and programming that is somehow activated by 5G or the government.

Another challenge is outreach to low income, rural, minority, and English as a second language communities. Some areas are vaccine deserts, where residents do not have easy access to medical providers. In minority populations such as Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander, there is significant distrust in medical care in the United States due to historic mistreatment by the government. For non-English speakers, language barriers have existed in understanding how to get a vaccine or make an appointment.

Washington state has shifted its vaccination strategy to focus less on large scale vaccination centers to focus on mobile and pop-up clinics, and community outreach. King County is offering free transportation and childcare to get a vaccination. Childcare is also available for those who experience moderate side effects, which many have reported after their second dose.

In King County, you can visit the Department of Health website to find a vaccination clinic, and almost all locations support walk-up appointments. You can also visit the Facebook Group, Find a COVID Shot WA if you need language or technology assistance in making an appointment.

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