97% of COVID-19 cases in King County are among unvaccinated people

SEATTLE — In King County, cases of COVID-19 and related hospitalizations have been decreasing, thanks to an increase in vaccinations.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer with Public Health — Seattle & King County, reports that there have been 155 new COVID-19 cases daily on average over the past week for the county, which is down 64% from the recent peak. King County, he says, is now at a level of transmission similar to that before the recent fourth wave, but about double the level in late September 2020 before the large fall and winter peak.

In more good news, incidence rates among all age groups are decreasing. Similar to the past few weeks, rates remain the highest in young people.

“At this time, our outbreak is being felt primarily by the unvaccinated,” Duchin said. “Approximately a half a million people 12 years of age and older remain unvaccinated, and 97% or more of current cases are among unvaccinated people. That means if you’re unvaccinated, your risk of COVID-19 is actually higher right now than it was last Memorial Day.”

“And although I don’t expect to see a summer surge similar to what we saw last year, people who are unvaccinated are at significant risk and need to continue to take precautions, including limiting indoor activities with other unvaccinated people, distancing, and wearing masks indoors when they’re around others,” he added. “This is especially important over this Memorial Day when people may be gathering.”

“Outdoors is great. Indoors, think about precautions,” Duchin noted.

Since there will always be a number of people who remain unvaccinated, including both those who refuse to be vaccinated as well as those who do not respond to vaccines due to immuno-compromised or medical conditions, Duchin emphasized the importance of focusing on indoor air quality improvements. He also noted that no vaccine provides 100% protection.

“Thanks to vaccination, we are in a much better place now as we head into summer, as we had hoped for, and I’m optimistic that the burden of COVID-19 will continue to decrease over the coming months as more are vaccinated,” he said.

In King County, 75% of residents 16 years of age and older have received one dose, and 63% are fully vaccinated.

If you’re not yet vaccinated against COVID-19, Duchin says Memorial Day weekend is a great time to get vaccinated as multiple sites will be open. Plus, if you have extra time off from work, that means more time to recover in case of any symptoms. There is no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of immigration or health insurance status.

“If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, getting your first shot this weekend will mean a safer summer for you, your loved ones, and your community,” Duchin said.

Find a full list of COVID-19 vaccination sites — including the Auburn Outlet Collection and Kent ShoWare Center, both of which will be open this weekend — and learn more about getting vaccinated in King County online here.