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Washington reaches 70% COVID-19 vaccination rate milestone

As of Wednesday morning, 70% of the state's population 16 years and older have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

SEATTLE — As of Wednesday morning, 70% of Washingtonians 16 years old and up have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The major milestone was announced during a Washington State Department of Health (DOH) briefing. 

The milestone comes just two weeks after the state fully reopened on June 30, almost a year and a half after it closed down. 

Also announced Wednesday morning, 3.9 million Washingtonians are now fully vaccinated.

As of Monday, the state said 8 million doses of the vaccine had been given to nearly 4.3 million Washingtonians. 

As of July 1, COVID-19 case counts are flattening across the state, according to the DOH, with most counties continuing to see a decline in cases. 

State Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said that the state is watching variants and breakthrough cases in vaccinated residents closely.

According to Shah, the delta variant is becoming increasingly dominant in the state. It now represents just over 40% of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washington. 

However, Shah said that because the vaccines are holding up to the variants, delta's rise is not an immediate cause of concern. 

He continued to urge everyone who hadn't been vaccinated to go get their shot. 

"The best protection, no matter the variant, is to get vaccinated," Shah said. "Please champion vaccines for those around you."

Hospitalization rates for unvaccinated Washingtonians remain high. Those who are 45 years old and up are between 11-18 times more likely to be hospitalized due to the virus compared to those who are fully vaccinated. 

"We are going to live with this virus for a long time coming. We need to be ready for that." Shah said.

The health department took time during the briefing to acknowledge the state's vaccine lottery, which picked a $1 million grand prize winner on Tuesday. That winner will be notified Wednesday.

The DOH said that the state saw a vaccination rate increase of 24% following the lottery announcement. 

"A Heroes Thanks," the state's vaccine lottery for military members and veterans, will make its first drawing next week.