A couple weeks ago, I wrote a column addressing one aspect of eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington. I was inundated with reader emails, all from folks who seemingly couldn’t wait for their turn to get poked. So this latest bit of news doesn’t surprise me at all.
The Seattle area ranks second among major metro areas for our willingness to receive the vaccine, according to new survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.
Among those of us who have not yet been vaccinated, 68% in the Seattle metro area said they are definitely planning to get the vaccine when it’s finally their turn.
The survey breaks out the data for the 15 largest U.S. metro areas. The Seattle metro, which includes King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, just makes the cut at No. 15.
And among those 15 large metros, the only one that ranks higher than Seattle is San Francisco, where nearly 72% said they will definitely receive the vaccine.
In the Seattle area, a little over 200,000 adults said they had already received the vaccine (either the first dose or both doses) at the time of the survey, which was conducted from Jan. 6-18. That’s about 7% of the 18-and-older population, slightly below the national average of 8%.
That leaves about 2.9 million adults who had not yet received the vaccine at the time of the survey. Of those, about two million, or 68%, said they definitely would take it.
And the remaining 900,000? Most of them — more than 500,000 — said they probably would get the vaccine. Nearly a quarter-million said they probably would not. Another 130,000 claim they are definitely not going to get the vaccine.
Seattle is also far above the U.S. average for willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Nationally, only 51% of the currently unvaccinated are certain they want the vaccine.
Statewide, 61% in Washington said they will definitely receive the vaccine. That ranks us third among the states behind Massachusetts (64%) and Rhode Island (62%). At the other end of the spectrum, only 35% in Mississippi said they would definitely get vaccinated.
When it comes to high levels of vaccine comfort, a clear pattern emerges among the nation’s largest metro areas.
There are four metros where the “definitely” population make up more than 60% of the total. In addition to Seattle and San Francisco, they are Boston and Washington, D.C. These areas have certain key demographic similarities: high incomes and high levels of education.
There are five metro areas where less than half of the adult population say they will definitely receive the vaccine, and all five are located in the Sunbelt: Riverside-San Bernardino, California, Atlanta, Houston, Miami and Phoenix.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we don’t yet know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to achieve herd immunity, at which point the spread of the virus is contained.
What are the reasons someone in the Seattle area might be on the fence about the vaccine, or completely against it? The survey also asks about that.
Among the roughly 900,000 in our area who fall into that category, the top two reasons both deal with vaccine safety. About 59% said they were concerned about possible side effects, and 53% said they will wait and see if the vaccine is indeed safe. (Respondents were allowed to choose multiple reasons, so the totals exceed 100%.)
The third answer sounds rather altruistic: About 38% said they weren’t taking the vaccine because they felt other people needed it more. That’s the opposite of all the vaccine line-jumping we’ve been hearing about.
The Seattle area has its share of anti-vaxxers — looking at you, Vashon Island — and about a fifth of respondents said they either don’t trust vaccines or don’t trust the government.
The Household Pulse Survey is a new endeavor by the U.S. Census Bureau, working in conjunction with five other federal agencies. Unlike other census products, which have a long lag time, the Household Pulse Survey provides near real-time data.
These statistics are intended to help inform officials and policymakers about the impacts of the pandemic on communities across the country, and to provide data to aid in the post-pandemic recovery.
Nationally, 68,348 people responded to the survey, including 1,644 in the Seattle area.