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Tuesday, November 30, 2021
ArlingtonVaccination rates still lagging among 20-to-30-years-olds

Vaccination rates still lagging among 20-to-30-years-olds

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The 20-to-29 age group remains most resistant to obtaining COVID vaccinations in Arlington, according to new data, although the gap between that younger group and other age categories is shrinking.

Just over 68 percent of those between 20 and 29 years old have had at least one dose of the vaccine, according to data reported Oct. 14 by the county’s public-health director, Dr. Reuben Varghese. That’s more than 8 percentage points lower than the next-lowest age group (30-to-39 at 74.6 percent) and a full 10 percent below the countywide vaccination rate of 78.5 percent for those 12 and older.

The lower levels of interest in getting vaccinated among the young and largely healthy twentysomething group has been known by county leaders since inoculations began becoming available earlier in the year, and in remarks at an Oct. 14 community forum, the county government’s public-health chief said education efforts seem to be having an effect.

“That used to be much worse,” Dr. Reuben Varghese said of the differential between young adults and older groups. “Slowly but surely, it’s improving.”

Many factors may come into play in an individual’s decision to stay unvaccinated, but among those young and not facing any underlying health conditions, one clearly is having little fear of paying the ultimate price even if one does contract COVID.

In terms of deaths, the data agree with that conclusion – of the 266 Arlington residents reported to have died due to COVID or with COVID as an ancillary cause during the first 18 months of the pandemic, not a single death came among anyone younger than 40, according to county-government data.

But that statistic does not tell the whole story, Varghese said.
“Just because you didn’t die from it doesn’t mean you didn’t have significant impacts,” Varghese said.

Updated vaccination rates (of those receiving at least one dose) among various age groups in Arlington show those between ages 20 and 50 are less vaccinated than the overall county average, while those 50 and older and those 12 to 19 are vaccinated at higher rates.

The breakdown by age group:

• Ages 12-19: 88.5 percent.
• Ages 20-29: 68.4 percent.
• Ages 30-30: 74.6 percent.
• Ages 40-49: 77.8 percent.
• Ages 50-50: 78.8 percent.
• Ages 60-69: 94.8 percent.
• Ages 70-79: 86.7 percent.
• Ages 80-plus: 83.2 percent.

(The just over 29,000 Arlington residents younger than 12 are not yet eligible for vaccines, although that soon may change for those ages 5 and older.)

Arlington officials believe the vaccination rates are actually slightly higher than those reported, as they do not include some residents who got their shots in the District of Columbia, which has not fully reported data to Virginia health officials.

Since late July, Arlington has been seeing between 200 and 300 COVID cases per week, in line with what was seen in February and March of 2021. Those figures are much lower than the 600 to 700 cases reported last December and January, but much higher than the trough of less (sometimes significantly less) than 100 cases per week reported in late spring and early summer 2021 before the more transmissible Delta variant of the virus became the predominant strain.

Of the 266 Arlington residents who have died due to or with COVID in their systems since the onset of pandemic, exactly half have been more than 80 years old, a death rate nearly four times as high as the next most vulnerable group (those ages 70-79, representing 67 deaths). Rates of death for the 40-to-59 and 60-to-69 age groups were significantly lower.

Many of the deaths of the elderly came at the early stages of the pandemic; the arrival of vaccines have cut the risk of death substantially. But Varghese the community should not let its guard down.

“There’s still a risk,” he said. “There are still people dying.”
Vaccination rates by race/ethnicity when compared to population, reported by county health officials as of Oct. 14:

• White residents represent 60.9 percent of the Arlington population and have received 51.2 percent of vaccinations.

• Hispanic/Latino residents represent 16.8 percent of the population and have received 16.3 percent of shots.

• Asian residents represent 9.7 percent of the population and have received 12.2 percent of vaccinations.

• Black residents represent 8.7 percent of the population and have received 7.8 percent of vaccinations.

Those figures are based on self-reporting of racial/ethnicity characteristics by individuals. There are some structural differences between the data for overall population and for COVID vaccinations; the former includes “two or more races” as an option for respondents, the latter does not.

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