COVID -19: The Snoqualmie Valley; Where We Were and Where We are Now. Cases and Hospitalizations Drop as King County Reaches 70% Vaccination Coverage

According to the Department of Health, when the first COVID-19 vaccines arrived locally in mid-December, it was a sign of hope. In King County at the time, 240 people were being hospitalized for COVID-19 each week and sadly, ten people were dying every day from the virus.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

Today, six months later, the picture is much brighter as King County has reached a remarkable milestone: 70% of King County residents age 16 and older have completed their vaccine series, leading to a large decline in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Here are a few key things to know about this 70% milestone:

  • COVID-19 cases are at the lowest level since September of 2020.
  • The largest decreases in COVID-19 are occurring among age groups with the highest vaccine coverage. Older adults (ages 65 years and older) have experienced a dramatic 90% drop in hospitalizations since the peak in cases in December 2020. Age groups with less vaccination coverage experienced a fourth wave of cases and hospitalizations in the spring, while older age groups did not experience this fourth wave.
  • People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of Pfizer/Moderna or two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  It takes these two weeks for the immune system to fully respond to the vaccine. That means King County will reach 70% fully vaccinated on June 29, and the current King County mask directive will end. 

The Upper Snoqualmie Valley Statistics

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, as of June 15th, the geographic area that includes Snoqualmie, North Bend, Fall City and surrounding areas of King County saw 1727 positive Covid cases, 52 hospitalizations and 24 deaths.

We had two major outbreaks and life as we know it has been interrupted for 15 months.

As far as vaccination rates go, 62% of residents in the 98045-zip code have finished their vaccine series (2 shots ages 12 and up), 98024-zip code stands at 57.9% and 67.2% in the 98065-zip code have had both shots.

Achieving 70% in King CountyHow we got here

The 70% vaccinate rate milestone was achieved through a strategy that focuses first and foremost on the hardest-hit areas of our region, using various approaches to meet people where they are. Early on, King County launched high-volume vaccination sites in every major area of the region for quick and easy access. Mass vaccination sites in the area included the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital and the Snoqualmie Tribe.

These sites delivered thousands of doses per week, providing access for all residents regardless of insurance coverage or immigration status and complementing the vaccine reach of health care providers, community health clinics and pharmacies.  

Vaccination coverage across our region

Vaccination rates vary by community, age, and race/ethnicity. Public Health is working to ensure as many people are protected as possible with the goal of at least 70% fully vaccinated across all racial/ethnic groups, eligible ages, and geographies.

Communities with lower vaccination rates are often the same communities that have experienced much higher rates of COVID-19. For example, in south and southeast King County, 62% of residents 16 and older have completed their vaccination series. This region has seen about two to four times the rate of new COVID-19 cases over the last 14 days compared to the county as a whole.  

Public Health sees differences in vaccination rates by race/ethnicity. Black/African American and Latinx residents have the lowest vaccination rates among racial/ethnic groups in King County, with about 52% having completed their vaccination series compared to 66% for Whites, 74% for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, 76% for American Indian/Alaskan Natives and 79% for Asian Americans.

Closing gaps in vaccination

There are numerous reasons that people may not be vaccinated. Despite the vaccine’s high effectiveness and safety, some people may have concerns about vaccine safety. Intentional misinformation may perpetuate these concerns.

To address this, Public Health is connecting with community groups and providing information about the vaccine in multiple venues and multiple languages.

It may also be challenging for people to get time off work, and some may be concerned about missing work if they experience side effects. Public Health is encouraging employers to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated and recover from vaccination.

Barriers such as childcare and transportation can also make it challenging for some working people, parents and caregivers to get vaccinated. To address this, no appointment is needed at many vaccination sites, and several sites include weekend hours. Information about free rides to vaccination appointments and free childcare during vaccination appointments and recuperation is available on Public Health’s Getting Vaccinated webpage.

Progress will be slower now that most people are already vaccinated, and those remaining are ambivalent or hesitant. Public Health will continue to work with partners to build trust and confidence and remove barriers to getting vaccinated.

We continue to depend on one another for community protection and to help protect those who cannot be vaccinated. The more vaccinated people, the less COVID-19 will circulate and the safer we all will be.

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