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COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy declining in Washington, according to census data

Washington ranks second in the U.S. for unvaccinated residents who definitely plan to get a COVID-19 shot, according to census data.

SEATTLE — New data suggests COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy may be decreasing in Washington state as more people receive their shots.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s biweekly Pulse Survey from March 3-15 shows 66% of unvaccinated Washingtonians surveyed will definitely get a COVID-19 shot, and another 22% say they probably will get one. It was even higher in the Seattle metro area with 73% of unvaccinated people saying they will definitely be inoculated.

The Seattle metro area led the nation in vaccine enthusiasm with San Francisco (72% of unvaccinated people definitely getting the shot) a close second. Among the 50 states, just one – Vermont – ranked higher than Washington.

RELATED: ‘Disturbing’ number of Washingtonians over 65 haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine, Inslee says

This sentiment has increased in Washington since early January when a limited amount of vaccine was available and strict eligibility requirements opened vaccinations only to high-risk health care workers and long-term care residents. The Census Bureau’s Jan. 6-18 poll found 61% of unvaccinated Washingtonians said they would definitely get the vaccine.

The survey also pointed to areas the state may need to address to convince people to get the vaccine. Among reasons people cited for not getting vaccinated, the most common were concerns about possible side effects and wanting to wait and see if it’s safe. About a third of people fell into those two categories.

Although more people are willing to be inoculated now, data show the concerns people have around vaccination are still largely the same as they were three months ago.

Overall, it points to good news for health officials racing to get as many people vaccinated and reach herd immunity. Although nobody knows exactly the threshold we need to reach to obtain herd immunity, in the past experts have said it’s 70% or higher.

On April 15, all Washingtonians 16 and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine.