Seattle is one of the most vaccinated major metro areas in the nation. More than 90% of the 18-and-older population in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Even so, that leaves a fairly large number of people in the three counties who are unvaccinated.
According to new survey data, that number stood at around 216,000 in early December — and that number’s probably not coming down more much at this point. Most of the unvaccinated plan to stay that way, according to the survey.
The data comes for the latest release of the U.S. Census Bureau’s ongoing Household Pulse Survey, conducted from Dec. 1 to 13. There were about 61,000 respondents to the survey, which includes the nation’s 15 largest metro areas — Seattle just makes the cut at No. 15.
According to the survey, the more than 200,000 people 18 and older who are unvaccinated make up about 7% of the Seattle-area adult population. That puts us among the four metro areas with the lowest percentages of unvaccinated adults, along with Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Chicago. Phoenix had the highest percentage of unvaccinated adults among the 15 largest metros, at about 20%.
The survey program has been tracking vaccination status over the past year, and it has shown the number of unvaccinated people in the Seattle area steadily declining. But as the number gets smaller, there are fewer left willing to change their mind about the vaccines.
The latest survey data shows that the majority of the Seattle area’s unvaccinated adults — about 53% of them — are firmly entrenched in their opposition to receiving the vaccine, saying that they will “definitely not” get vaccinated. Another 15% said they would “probably not” get the jab.
There are some unvaccinated folks who still have every intention of getting vaccinated, though it’s a small number at this point. Eight percent said they “definitely” will get vaccinated, and another 4% said they “probably” will.
The survey’s cross tabs show that younger adults, people with less formal education and those in lower-income households are more likely to be unvaccinated in the Seattle area.
Though the now-dominant omicron variant appears to cause less severe illness than earlier variants, it is more resistant to vaccines, research shows. The vaccines, however, are effective in protecting people from severe illness and death.
And for people who live in the Seattle area, there is an additional incentive to get vaccinated beyond the obvious health benefit: Without proof of vaccination (or a negative COVID test result), you can’t get into restaurants, bars, gyms, sporting events and many other venues in King County. Pierce and Snohomish counties don’t have this same vaccination requirement.
The Household Pulse survey includes a separate question asking respondents why they wouldn’t get the vaccine. In the Seattle metro, two reasons were selected by more than 50% of those taking the survey (respondents could select multiple reasons).
The top reason for not getting vaccinated, selected by about 60%, was concern over side effects. The vaccines do have some common side effects, such as temporary pain at the injection site and flu-like symptoms. There are a few more serious potential side effects, including myocarditis and pericarditis, but these are rare.
The second most-popular reason for not getting vaccinated, selected by about 55% in the Seattle area, was distrust of the government — truly a sign of the times. And if some people believe there is something nefarious behind these vaccines, is it any wonder they won’t budge in their refusal to be vaccinated?
Hardly anyone in the Seattle area — not even 3% — said they hadn’t been vaccinated because it was hard to get the vaccine. At this point, it’s not about access to the vaccine.