A few weeks ago I wrote a column on one aspect of eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington. I was inundated with reader emails, all from people who couldn’t seem to wait for their turn. So this latest news doesn’t surprise me at all.
The Seattle area is the second largest metropolitan area for our readiness to receive the vaccine, according to new survey data from the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.
Among those of us who haven’t been vaccinated, 68% in the Seattle metropolitan area said they definitely plan to get the vaccine when it is their turn.
The survey breaks down the data for the 15 largest US metropolitan areas. The Seattle subway, which includes Counties King, Pierce, and Snohomish, is currently making the cut to 15th place.
And among those 15 major metros, San Francisco is the only one higher up than Seattle, where nearly 72% said they will definitely receive the vaccine.
In the Seattle area, just over 200,000 adults said they had received the vaccine (either the first dose or both doses) at the time of the survey, which was conducted Jan. 6-18. That’s about 7% of the population aged 18 and over, slightly less than the national average of 8%.
That leaves about 2.9 million adults who hadn’t received the vaccine at the time of the survey. Of those, about two million, or 68%, said they would definitely take it.
And the remaining 900,000? Most of them – more than 500,000 – said they would likely get the vaccine. Almost a quarter of a million said they probably wouldn’t. Another 130,000 claim they definitely won’t get the vaccine.
Seattle is also well above the U.S. average for willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Nationwide, only 51% of currently unvaccinated people are sure they want the vaccine.
Nationwide, 61% in Washington said they will definitely receive the vaccine. This puts us in third place among the states behind Massachusetts (64%) and Rhode Island (62%). On the other end of the spectrum, only 35% in Mississippi said they would definitely be vaccinated.
When it comes to a high level of vaccination comfort, a clear pattern is evident in the country’s largest metropolitan areas.
There are four metros where the “definitely” population is more than 60% of the total population. In addition to Seattle and San Francisco, these are Boston and Washington, DC. These areas share certain key demographic similarities: high incomes and high levels of education.
There are five subway areas where less than half the adult population says they will definitely receive the vaccine, and all five are in the sun belt: Riverside-San Bernardino, California, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, and Phoenix .
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we do not yet know what percentage of people would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to achieve herd immunity. At this point, the spread of the virus is contained.
What are the reasons someone in the Seattle area is on the fence or against the vaccine? The survey also asks about it.
Of the roughly 900,000 in our region who fall into this category, the two main reasons deal with vaccine safety. About 59% said they were concerned about possible side effects, and 53% said they would wait and see if the vaccine is actually safe. (Respondents were allowed to choose multiple reasons so that the total number exceeds 100%.)
The third answer sounds more altruistic: Around 38% said they wouldn’t take the vaccine because they thought other people needed it more. This is the opposite of all the vaccination jump we’ve heard of.
There are a lot of anti-Vaxxers in the Seattle area – you see, Vashon Island – and about a fifth of those polled said they either don’t trust vaccines or they don’t trust the government.
The Household Pulse Survey is a new endeavor from the US Census Bureau, which works in partnership with five other federal agencies. Unlike other census products, which have a long delay time, the Household Impulse Survey provides near real-time data.
These statistics are designed to help educate officials and policy makers about the impact of the pandemic on communities across the country and to provide data to support post-pandemic recovery.
Nationwide, 68,348 people responded to the survey, including 1,644 in the Seattle area.