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News / Health / Health Wire

How many in WA have gotten a COVID booster in past year

By Gene Balk, The Seattle Times
Published: August 28, 2023, 7:15am

SEATTLE — Have you gotten a COVID vaccine booster within the past year?

Most Americans have not, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s ongoing Household Pulse Survey. But that’s not the case in Washington or in the Seattle area, where a slim majority have gotten a shot within the past 12 months.

Many are worried, of course, that we may be seeing the start of another surge in COVID infections. Some public-health officials recommend an annual vaccine booster against COVID, similar to the flu shot. And there is evidence that an annual booster can help protect against infection and serious illness.

But there is also a lot of skepticism about the COVID vaccine’s efficacy and safety among many Americans, especially those who are more conservative.

Nationally, around 44% of adults — that’s a projected 112.5 million people — said they’d gotten a COVID shot in the past 12 months, according to the latest Household Pulse Survey. The survey was conducted from July 26 to Aug. 7.

But the survey data shows the share of adults with a recent booster varies tremendously from state to state. And like everything else these days, it falls largely along political lines.

The states that vote more Democratic tend to have a higher percentage of adults who are up-to-date on their boosters, while states that vote more Republican tend to have a higher share of adults who haven’t had a recent COVID shot.

At one extreme is the very blue state of Vermont, where around 62% of adults have gotten boosted in the past 12 months. At the other extreme is a highly conservative state, North Dakota, where only about 32% of adults have been boosted in the past year.

Washington, as you’d expect, is on the higher end of the spectrum, with 50.5% of adults — a projected 3 million people — having received a booster in the past year. Washington was among just 10 states where more than half of adults had received a recent COVID booster.

And only about 13% of Washington adults said they’d never received a single COVID vaccination.

The number of people who have gotten recent boosters is even higher in the Seattle metro area, which includes King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Around 55% here have gotten a COVID booster shot in the past 12 months. The Seattle metro area accounts for slightly more than half of Washington’s adult population, at around 3.1 million.

The biggest demographic factor in determining the likelihood a person has received a recent COVID booster shot is age. As you’d expect, older people, who are likely more concerned about having serious illness from COVID, are much more likely to have received a shot in the past year than the youngest adults. In Washington, 66.5% of those 65 and older have done so, compared with just 23% of those ages 18 to 24.

Higher income and educational attainment also correlate with a greater likelihood of having received a recent COVID booster. For example, among those in Washington with a household income of $200,000 or more, 66.5% have gotten a booster in the past 12 months. And among those who have graduated from a four-year college, 62% have been boosted recently.

The Household Pulse Survey is an experimental product of the U.S. Census Bureau, in conjunction with other federal agencies. Unlike other census products, which have a long lag time, the Household Pulse Survey provides near-real-time data. The program was initiated in 2020 in response to the pandemic. It was intended to help inform officials and policymakers about the impacts of the pandemic on communities across the country, and to provide data to aid in a post-pandemic recovery.