King County Vaccine Update: 1M+ doses administered, but cases are on the rise

By: Editorial Staff Posted: 04/09/2021

We must remain committed to proven prevention strategies: masks, physical distance, and minimizing contacts outside of our households

New cases are rising significantly since the latest increase began in late February (up nearly 80%). From a geographic perspective, while we are seeing these increases across the county, south and southeast King County have been experiencing rates of cases that are 2 – 3.5 times higher over the last few weeks of March. Among age groups, the steepest rise is among younger adults 18 – 24 years old followed by those 25 – 49 years old.

Hospitalizations also continue to increase, mostly recently among 40 – 69-year-olds, followed by 20 – 39-year-olds.

As you know, we are currently in Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery. We currently are under the thresholds for new cases or hospitalizations that would trigger our region rolling back to Phase 2 of reopening. These are our current numbers against the indictors for Phase 3

  • Indicator #1: new cases per 100,00 must be below 200
    • Current status: 174.4/100,000
  • Indicator #2: new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 must be below 5
    • Current status: 3.9/100,000

However, if the trends keep rising at their current rates, King County along with many others are at risk of needing to roll back to Phase 2. To remain in our current phase, we must continue to use our proven prevention strategies to help bend the infection and hospitalization trends. We have simple actions we can continue to take to prevent the spread where we work and socialize, in our personal lives, in our homes, businesses, and anywhere people gather:

  • Wear a well-made, snug fitting face mask
  • Limit activities with unvaccinated people from outside your home
  • Avoid crowded indoor spaces
  • Improve ventilation in workplaces, businesses, and homes, including opening doors and windows when you can

COVID-19 testing is still important
We encourage people experiencing any potential COVID-19 symptoms to get tested – you can find a list of free testing sites in King County here.

Vaccine Update

Even while we work to stay strong and stem the tide of increased cases, we are confident in our County’s vaccination strategy and continue to make immense progress.

King County Progress

The biggest news coming out of last week is that King County has exceeded one million doses administered! As of April 6, 42% of King County residents ages 16 and older have received at least one dose and nearly 25% are fully vaccinated.

Coming out of last week, adults age 65+ across all racial and ethnic groups have passed the 80% or higher vaccination coverage rate with one or more doses. King County continues to make progress closing the race and ethnicity gap, but focused outreach and access remains a priority.

Washington State Eligibility

On March 31, the Governor made two big eligibility announcements. The first announcement expanded eligibility to the third and fourth tiers of Phase 1B, which includes:

  • People 60 years and older
  • People 16 years and older with two or more underlying health conditions per the CDC’s list, that put people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19
  • High-risk critical workers who work in congregate settings – such as restaurants and food services, manufacturing, and construction
  • Staff, volunteers, and residents in certain congregate settings – such as correctional facilities, prisons, jails, detention centers, group homes for people with disabilities, shelters, and temporary housing, and other congregate settings where people experiencing homelessness live or access services

The second announcement expanded eligibility for all Washington residents age 16 and up beginning on April 15. You can find more information on COVID-19 vaccine prioritization guidance from the Department of Health (DOH). 

Public Health – Seattle & King County continues to provide up-to-date information (in multiple languages) about how to schedule a vaccination appointment.

Vaccines

You may have read in the news that a factory inadvertently mixed up some vaccine ingredients and a large batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines had to be destroyed. The error does not affect any doses delivered or used here in Washington State. The good news is that this incident shows the safety measures in vaccine production are working. The error was identified quickly, and the doses were removed before entering the supply chain.

Limited vaccine supply has been our number one challenge to vaccinating everyone who is eligible and wants to be vaccinated. In anticipation of both increased supply and demand, King County has continued to prepare for more capacity through health care providers and public-private partnership vaccination sites that will allow us to serve all eligible adults. As a result of these partnerships, King County is now poised and READY to administer three times the weekly vaccine supply currently being received by the County.  Every adult will have the opportunity to be vaccinated over the next 1-2 months. Please be patient as we wait for vaccine supply to match demand – it won’t be long.