With COVID cases now ‘relatively stable,’ King County refocuses its response efforts

Jul 1, 2021, 12:07 PM
King County vaccines, vaccine mandate...
A nurse practitioner distributes vaccines at a pop-up clinic in White Center. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

With Washington reopened and COVID-19 cases continuing to trend downward, health officials in King County are refocusing their efforts to ensure that as many people as possible get vaccinated.

Washington counties remain hesitant to get vaccinated

In total, 78% of King County residents have received at least one vaccine dose, while 72% are now fully vaccinated. That said, there’s still work to do, says Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin.

“We are in very good shape, but we still have gaps we need to address,” he said during a Thursday briefing.

Duchin cited concerns over a troubling trend in communities of color, with the two-dose vaccination completion rate for Black and Hispanic King County residents sitting at 53% and 55%, respectively. Comparatively, the vaccination completion rate among white residents is roughly 67%.

That has the county seeing lower vaccination completion rates in the same areas with the highest COVID-19 rates, with health officials now hoping to rework their vaccination strategy to account for that.

“We’re refocusing our strategy to achieve this goal with a micro-geographic focus, in which we’ll work with community partners and health providers to concentrate and coordinate vaccination efforts in areas with low coverage rates,” Dr. Duchin detailed.

In terms of case rates across King County, Duchin noted that the region is in “a relatively stable situation” in the short term, although the longer term outlook remains unclear. That’s largely due to the increasing prevalence of the highly infectious Delta variant.

Vaccine-mobile to bring COVID-19 vaccines to the people

Of the positive COVID-19 test samples gathered over a two-week period in early June, 90% were so-called “variants of concern.” The full breakdown found that 49% were the B.1.1.7 variant, now below the 50% threshold for the first time in months. Another 26% were the Delta variant, with that number continuing to rise.

“It will be challenging us over the next several weeks to months as it spreads more effectively than the previous variants,” Duchin warned about the Delta variant.

Given that, he points out that it’s “more important than ever” for everyone to get vaccinated.

“Waiting to get vaccinated until Delta takes over as the most prevalent variant is not a good strategy,” he said. “Get vaccinated now — sooner is better than later to get the best protection.”

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With COVID cases now ‘relatively stable,’ King County refocuses its response efforts