President Joe Biden has set a goal to vaccinate 70% of American adults with at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot by July 1.
In King County, we’re almost there already.
As of May 5, close to 68% of county residents age 16 and older had received at least one dose of the vaccine. In some areas, the numbers are much higher.
Public Health — Seattle & King County releases vaccination data broken out by ZIP code. As of May 5, eight county zips exceeded 80%, all of them either on the Eastside or in Seattle.
The highest percentage is on Mercer Island (98040), where nearly 87% of residents had been at least partially vaccinated.
The other ZIPs exceeding 80% vaccination rates were in areas east of Lake Sammamish (98074 and 98075), the northwest end of Seattle and Shoreline (98117 and 98177), and parts of central Seattle (98112), West Seattle (98136) and northeast Seattle (98115).
And, in what may comes as a surprise, Vashon Island (98070) was right behind these areas, with a vaccination rate of about 79%. Vashon, of course, has had a long-standing reputation as a local hotbed of anti-vaxx sentiment. It looks like that may be a thing of the past.
There are some areas of the county, though, that are lagging behind. Overall, the southern and eastern sections of the county have lower vaccination rates than Seattle or the Eastside.
There were only six ZIP codes out of King County’s 78 where, as of May 5, less than half of adult residents had received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Three of these were in more rural areas to east, where there may be greater vaccine hesitancy: Ravensdale (98051), Enumclaw (98022) and Skykomish (98288). Two were in less affluent parts of South King County, around Auburn (98002) and Pacific (98047). One was in Seattle, in the Sodo neighborhood (98134), which is one of the least populated areas of the city.
The public-health department’s data show a big variance in vaccination rates along racial/ethnic lines. The highest rates are among Asian (78%), Native American (73%), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (71%), and white (63%) residents. Black and Hispanic residents, both at around 50%, were significantly lower.
A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in February found that nationally, certain socio-demographic groups expressed greater hesitancy about receiving the vaccine, including: younger adults, women, Black people, people living in nonurbanized areas, and adults with lower educational attainment, lower income and without health insurance.
A couple surveys have shown that Seattle is at or near the top of areas for the public’s willingness to be vaccinated. One ongoing survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, which I’ve written about before, shows that in the Seattle area there is a growing level of comfort with the vaccine’s safety, and lessening concerns about side effects.
Another new survey, conducted by polling firm Zencity in 19 cities (including Seattle) at the end of March, found that the intention and eagerness to get vaccinated in Seattle was about twice as high as the average. And only 17% of the unvaccinated in Seattle said they would definitely not get the shot, compared with the average of 28% across all 19 cities.
Once you’re fully vaccinated, you can go maskless outside or indoors in smaller groups (the CDC still recommends masks for more crowded indoor spaces). And you can travel safely again, without concern about getting severely sick.
At least you should be able to. But according to a new article in Scientific American, a significant percentage of adults are fearful of resuming public activities after they’ve been fully vaccinated — the phenomenon even has a name: Cave syndrome.
Correction: An earlier version of this column misstated the percentage of people 65 and older on Mercer Island.