SEATTLE — Seattle has become the first major American city to reach its goal of fully vaccinating 70% of residents 12 and older, helping push Washington toward its overall vaccination and reopening targets.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan touted the milestone in a news release Wednesday, saying the city has surpassed San Francisco to take the lead in COVID-19 vaccine jabs.
“Seattle is America’s most vaccinated major city, and it would not have been possible without our residents’ commitment to protecting themselves, their loved ones and our entire community,” Durkan said in a statement.
Durkan said 78% of Seattleites who are 12 and up have begun the vaccination process. The city itself has administered nearly 250,000 vaccinations for about 131,000 individuals, the mayor’s office said.
The vaccinations have taken place at adult family homes, affordable housing buildings, community “pop ups,” sporting events and other locations. The city plans to shut down its mass vaccination center at Lumen Field at the end of the day on Saturday.
Durkan, who is not seeking re-election, had announced Seattle’s 70% target during her final State of the City address in February.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Jay Inslee praised Seattle’s efforts and said the state is nearing its own goal of getting at least 70% of people 16 and older to take at least one vaccine dose.
“This is an amazing moment in our state,” Inslee said. “We are now close to being able to essentially fully reopen.”
Inslee said 66.4% of state residents have received at least an initial vaccine dose. That total was boosted in part by the state adding in 152,000 residents who received vaccines through the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration, the governor said.
Inslee reiterated the state will allow reopening from COVID-19 restrictions on June 30, even if the vaccination target is not met, but immediately if it is reached.
Statewide, more than 7.3 million vaccine doses have been given, according to the state Department of Health.
The governor has faced increasing calls to immediately reopen the state, but defended his decision to wait as long as June 30 if the 70% target is not reached before then.
“We think these are reasonable decisions. They’re reasonable for 10,000 different reasons,” he said, pointing to the continued spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.
The widespread inoculations have helped drive down hospitalization rates and deaths. Durkan’s office said an estimated 95% of new cases in King County are in persons who have not started their vaccination regimens.
Inslee said there are “some early signs” that the state’s recently launched lottery prizes — including a $1 million jackpot— for Washington residents who have been vaccinated has resulted in an uptick in vaccine appointments. But, he added, “we can’t say anything definitive yet about the impact.”
The first lottery drawings were held Tuesday, Inslee said, but lottery officials are performing their usual checks before announcing information about winners.
Inslee also announced that after June 30, some restrictions will remain in place for large indoor facilities.
He said such venues that can hold crowds of 10,000 or more people will remain limited to 75% capacity. There will be no physical distancing requirements, but attendees will have to abide by masking guidelines.