Washington state has reached its goal of 70% of residents 16 years and older initiating vaccination against the coronavirus.
That’s almost 8 million doses to 4.3 million Washingtonians with 3.9 million fully vaccinated people, officials with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday during a news briefing.
A vaccination rate of 70% had been set as a goal nationally by President Joe Biden and in Washington by Gov. Jay Inslee, who had promised an early reopening of the state if the goal was reached before June 30, which did not happen. The state’s COVID-19 restrictions were eased on the last day of June.
State Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said that while COVID-19 case counts are flattening across the state with most counties seeing continued declines, the variants of concern remain something to be watched.
A few weeks ago, the delta variant represented about 5% of the cases in Washington. Now, that percentage has ballooned to more than 40% of the confirmed coronavirus cases, said Shah.
Shah said he’s not worried, though, because officials are not seeing variant cases increase in unvaccinated communities nor in breakthrough cases, either of which would be cause for concern.
He said the single best thing people can do to protect themselves from the virus and its variants is to get vaccinated.
“We are going to live with this virus for a long time coming,” he said. “We need to be ready for that.”