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DOH: ‘Will take time’ for Washington state, federal data to align on vaccine totals

The observation area at the Lumen Field vaccination site. (MyNorthwest photo)

Washingtonians received congratulatory words from senior White House adviser Andy Slavitt on Sunday, praising the state for becoming the 13th state to have 70% of adults receive at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. But those metrics don’t match the 63% mark the state is reporting, and that discrepancy isn’t likely to resolve itself for a while.

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So why the difference? Washington state is using the 2020 population from its own Office of Financial Management, which officials say is more accurate than the 2019 population data used by the federal government. Also, the ages used in each metric are different, as the White House is referencing those ages 18 and older, while the state is tracking ages 16 and older.

The state Department of Health provided further insight into the discrepancy in a written release sent out Monday, noting how the federal government receives data from the Department of Defense, Veteran Affairs, the Bureau of Prisons, and other federal agencies. That data has not been shared with the DOH, nor has data on Washingtonians who receive vaccine doses while out of state.

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The DOH is currently “looking into” the possibility of incorporating aggregate data from federal agencies into its own reporting, but says that as of now, “there is currently not a solution.”

That said, Slavitt and Gov. Jay Inslee spoke Monday, with Inslee reporting that the state is “marching along the path” toward its goal of having 70% of those ages 16 and up receive their first dose. In total, 50% of Washington’s population has initiated the vaccination process, while 43% are fully vaccinated. Over 54% of those ages 16 and up are fully vaccinated as well.

Inslee has continued to emphasize that Washington state will reopen on June 30 or once 70% of those age 16 and up have at least initiated vaccination, whichever comes first.

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