King County Announces a New Data Dashboard that Tracks Covid-19 Risk for Unvaccinated People Vs. Vaccinated People

Since July, COVID-19 cases have increased rapidly in King County. The worsening outbreak is affecting all of us. People who are not fully vaccinated are getting seriously ill and dying at much higher rates than the vaccinated population.   

That’s clear on a new data dashboard, which shows vaccines are reducing the risk of getting sick, hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19.  

No vaccine is 100% protective. When a vaccinated person does become infected, it is called a “breakthrough” case. When there are more breakthrough cases, that does not mean the vaccines are falling short. It just reflects that a higher percentage of the population is already vaccinated.   

Most breakthrough cases are not serious. What is important to know is how much the vaccine reduces a person’s risk of coming down with a severe infection

Public Health – Seattle & King County created the new dashboard so that anyone can track and compare the rates of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among unvaccinated and vaccinated people. Weekly updates will provide a snapshot of COVID-19 risks for unvaccinated residents compared with vaccinated residents. 

A guide to understanding the new dashboard 

What is “relative risk” and why it matters 

Relative risk means public health compares the risks for COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death in unvaccinated people relative to vaccinated people.  

The boxes in the dashboard’s top line show the relative risk of infection (positive test), hospitalization, and death for unvaccinated people, compared with fully vaccinated ones. For example, in the month leading up to August 26, unvaccinated people in King County were:  

  • 7 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than vaccinated people  
  • 49 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people  
  • 32 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than vaccinated people.  

Rate over time 

The current surge has driven COVID-19 transmission to some of the highest levels public health has seen during the pandemic. However, this latest wave of infections looks very different for the vaccinated population compared with not fully vaccinated residents.  

The “Rate over time” graphs show that difference starkly.  

The graphs show how faster the virus is spreading among unvaccinated people than vaccinated people of the same age. On July 1, the case rate among unvaccinated people was about 8 cases per 100,000 people per day, while it was less than 1 case among the vaccinated. Over the next two months, cases spiked among unvaccinated people, increasing by an additional 82 cases per 100,000 people per day. Cases rose among vaccinated people, too, but much more gently: By late August, the rate went up by just 8 additional cases per 100,000 per day.  

As far as our local numbers go as of Friday;

  • 75.2% of residents 12+ in zip code 98045 (North Bend) are fully vaccinated, up from 73.5% August 14th
  • 68.8% of residents 12+ in zip code 98024 (Fall City) are fully vaccinated, up from 67.1% August 14th
  • 82.2% of residents 12+ in zip code 98065 (Snoqualmie) are fully vaccinated, up from 80.7% August 14th
  • 72.0% of residents 12+ in zip code 98014 (Carnation) are fully vaccinated, up from 70.0% August 14th
  • 83.2% of residents 12+ in zip code 98019 (Duvall) are fully vaccinated, up from 81.5% August 14th

According to Public Health, since the mask mandate ended on June 29th (it has since been reinstated), 98045 has had 164 new Covid cases, 98065 has had 145, 98024 has had 50, 98014 has had 68, and 98019 has had 102 new cases. *Note: Testing data for the last two-week period is incomplete.

What to take away  

Getting vaccinated is the best way to reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. It’s the best way to protect yourself from getting so sick that you need to be hospitalized. And it significantly reduces your risk of catching COVID-19 at all and spreading it to others.  

The transparent, regularly updated local data in the new dashboard reinforces that even during a COVID-19 surge, the vaccines are protecting vaccinated people from serious disease.  

It also reminds us that no vaccine is 100-percent effective, so it is not surprising that there are still cases, hospitalizations, and even deaths among fully vaccinated people. That means we need everyone to take precautions and help stop the current outbreak from growing and potentially overwhelming our healthcare system.  

In addition to getting vaccinated, you can help prevent COVID-19 from spreading by: Wearing a well-made, snug-fitting face-covering in indoor public spaces and in outdoor settings where you can’t physically distance (including all large events); improving indoor airflow and ventilation; and, if you feel sick or have had close contact with someone with COVID-19, getting tested and isolating yourself while you await results. Employers can also help by providing and encouraging the use of paid sick leave, so employees can get vaccinated and stay home when needed.  

[See the full post on the Public Health Insider here]

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