Featured image: Rainier Beach COVID vaccination site. (Photo: Alex Garland)

Washington Vaccinations Still Short of Public Health Goal

by Ashley Archibald

Roughly 60% of Washingtonians aged 16 and above have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s progress — but still short of the 70% goal, health officials said at a press conference on May 26.

Vaccines are the “road to the future,” said Umair Shah, Washington State’s secretary of health.

“Vaccinations are protective; the benefits outweigh the risks,” Shah said. “But we do not want to see a tale of two societies where we have the vaccinated who are largely protected and able to go about their business knowing that they are not going to be infected by COVID-19 and then you have the unvaccinated who are also going to try to go about their work and their business and their life, but they continue to be at risk for infection by COVID-19.”

As of May 22, 6.7 million doses of the vaccine had been administered in Washington State. That is 86% of the vaccines that the state acquired.

“We are starting to really see the blunting of the impact of COVID-19 by the use of vaccines and the incorporation of vaccines into our arsenal,” Shah said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that vaccines are open to younger Americans aged 12 and above. As of May 22, 77,000 adolescents aged between 12 and 15 have received the vaccination in Washington State.

The CDC launched an inquiry into cases of myocarditis, a swelling of the heart, that could be connected to the vaccine in younger people. However, no cases have been reported in Washington State, said Acting State Health Officer Scott Lindquist.

Doctors recommend that young people get the vaccine.

While early reports indicated that young children were mostly spared the worst impacts of COVID-19, there have been more than 3,700 cases of severe illness in kids and 35 known deaths, said Shireesha Dhanireddy, a doctor and clinician educator at Harborview Medical Center.

“We know that COVID infection can be severe in children. These reports of potential association [with myocarditis] that have not been confirmed should not be a reason for people to not get their children vaccinated,” Dhanireddy said.

There has been frustration concerning the divergent advice from federal, state, and local health experts about whether or not vaccinated people should continue to wear masks in public. Masks have been an effective public health tool, Shah said, and people have to “respect the rules of the room.”

“Know what’s happening in your local jurisdiction; know what’s happening in the business or establishment that you’re frequenting,” Shah said.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in King County have been on the decline, according to Public Health — Seattle & King County. However, there were still 256 new cases reported in the county on May 25, as reported on the health agency’s online dashboard.

Ashley Archibald is the editor of Real Change News and a freelance journalist with previous work in the Santa Monica Daily Press and the Union Democrat. Her work focuses on policy and economic development, and you can find it in the South Seattle Emerald, KNKX, and the Urbanist.

📸 Featured image: Rainier Beach COVID vaccination site. (Photo: Alex Garland)

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