COVID-19 hospitalizations decreasing, except in teens

On Wednesday, the Washington State Department of Health reported COVID-19 hospitalizations are decreasing for adults but not for teens.

“It is highest among 14 to 19-year-olds, and those are children who are eligible to get a vaccine,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary of health. “We really encourage adolescents and their parents who are not vaccinated to talk to their health care providers and get their questions answered and get that protection.”

State health leaders are concerned if the vaccination rate does not increase, it could be harder to keep schools open for in-person learning. They said a higher disease rate in the community means a greater chance COVID-19 will be introduced in a classroom or school.

“We want to do everything we can, and it’s going to be up to all of us to do everything we can to keep our schools open,” said Dr. Umair Shah, secretary of health.

Statewide, the vaccination rate for adolescents ages 12-19 is 48%. This is much lower than what the state wants to see.

“We do believe this is something we need to watch very closely,” said Shah.

The Department of Health stated the higher the vaccination rate is in a school, the safer it becomes for everyone.

If you break down the vaccination rates by county, there are large differences. In King County, the vaccination rate for those ages 12-17 is 66%. In Snohomish County, it is 51%. In Pierce County, it is 39%.

The state is calling on parents who have been holding out to go talk to their pediatricians now.

Health leaders said they see an increase in people seeking vaccinations in Washington.

“Vaccination rates are rising. Since the middle of August, we’ve seen a 25% increase in the number of people who have initiated vaccine in our state,” said Michele Roberts, acting assistant secretary of health.

Oc. 18 is the deadline for all health care workers in Washington to get vaccinated.

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