There are differences in vaccine data reported by the state Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it will take some time for the two agencies’ information to align, state health officials said Monday.
While the Washington state Department of Health reported on its data dashboard that 7,253,646 vaccine doses had been administered as of June 5, the CDC’s federal COVID Data Tracker shows 7,843,092 doses administered in Washington as of June 6.
The state said its data dashboard “represents the most accurate information the department has control over, and there are a few reasons why numbers are different.”
Among them: The federal government’s data comes from the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Veterans Affairs and other sources not shared with DOH.
Additionally, records of vaccines administered to Washingtonians in other states would not be included in the state’s Immunization Information System but would show up on the CDC’s dashboard.
DOH and the CDC also use different age and population metrics. DOH uses estimates from the state Office of Financial Management; the federal government employs numbers from the 2019 census. DOH reports vaccine initiation for people age 16 and over; the federal government only counts vaccine initiation for those 18 and over.
The state said it had received some data from the VA and DoD, but without a way to add aggregate data, the information could not be incorporated into the state’s reported vaccination rates. DOH’s data dashboard is also driven by individual data, which means there’s no way to verify whether a vaccine has been previously reported.
“For example, if a veteran sees a provider outside of the VA who documents the COVID-19 vaccine into their electronic-medical record, that data could be submitted to the IIS and included in state vaccination rates. If it is added again the person may be double counted in the system,” said DOH in a statement.
DOH said it is looking into the feasibility of incorporating aggregate data, but there is not currently an easy way to include it.