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One week away from fully reopening, Washington health officials continue to urge vaccinations

As of Wednesday, Washington state has 68% of its population ages 16 and older with at least one dose of the vaccine -- health leaders want that number at 70%.

SEATTLE — As of Wednesday afternoon, Washington state has 68% of its population ages 16 and older with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Measured another way, 59% of the state's population ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). 

The state has just one more week to reach Gov. Jay Inslee's goal of 70% of the population with at least one shot before reopening on June 30.

"Even if we don’t hit at 70%, we’re still going to be reopening by June 30,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah Wednesday during what could be the last regular DOH media briefing on coronavirus

A positive note out of the briefing is that the Delta variant of the virus, which was first detected in India, is now dominant in the United Kingdom and has a strong foothold in the United States, but not so much in Washington state. 

"The rest of the country is seeing a rapid increase in the Delta variant,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist. "That is not the case here in Washington state."

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Lindquist said what worries him more is the Gamma variant. That particular variant has been around for months -- it originated in Brazil and was previously known as "P.1," but was renamed under new naming protocols from the World Health Organization. The Gamma variant has done damage north of the border in British Columbia and is now expanding south, according to health officials. 

Shah said another concern is over dropping case and hospitalization numbers that aren't dropping as fast as they were, and are now showing signs of "flattening out." 

"These are combinations of trends that give us some pause that we’re not completely out of the woods here," said Shah.

Shah is continuing to urge people who aren't vaccinated against COVID-19 to get their shots as the state moves closer to fully reopening. 

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