Sep 30, 2022 - COVID

Omicron booster rates have "major gaps"

Illustration of a turtle carrying a vial of liquid

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Demand for Omicron boosters is off to a slow start in the Seattle area.

Driving the news: As of Monday, 6.8% of eligible King County residents had received a bivalent booster aimed at fighting the latest strains of COVID-19.

  • That's a smaller percentage than local officials hoped for, said Kate Cole, a spokesperson for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

What's happening: More than two weeks after doses became available in King County, "major gaps'' exist in booster coverage broadly — but the numbers are lowest among those who are Black, Latino or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Cole said.

  • As of Monday, 2.6% of Black and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander residents of King County had received a bivalent booster, compared to 8.9% of white residents.
  • Meanwhile, among Latino and Hispanic residents, 3.3% had received the updated shot.
  • To help address those disparities, the county is partnering with community organizations to host pop-up vaccination clinics and working to share information in multiple languages, Cole said.

Of note: County residents ages 65 and older got boosted at a higher rate than any other group — but even then, only 12% had received the updated shot as of this week.

What they're saying: "COVID-19 is not disappearing; it's changing and remains unpredictable," Cole wrote in an email to Axios.

  • "...The updated boosters will provide the best protection we have from COVID-related hospitalization and death, and can also lower the risk of long-COVID," she wrote, adding that the new shot is "specially tailored to target the COVID-19 variants that are circulating now."

By the numbers: As of Monday, 281,201 people had received the updated shot statewide, according to the state Department of Health.

  • About 109,000 of those were in King County.

The big picture: Booster rates are low not just in Washington, but nationwide.

Be smart: You're eligible for the new booster if you're 12 or older, have finished your primary vaccine series, and haven’t received a dose or booster in the past two months.

  • Boosters are free even if you don't have insurance or legal residency status.

You can find places to get a shot and make an appointment at


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