New interactive map improves vaccine access

Social Vulnerability to COVID-19 Map helps identify ways to overcome vaccination barriers

When vaccines first became available in Washington, the demand far outweighed the supply. At the time, it was extremely important that DOH and vaccine providers got the limited doses to those who needed them most, regardless of the challenges. Now, we have many more doses available and supply and demand has settled. But, we still need to ensure there are no barriers for anyone who wants a vaccine — despite their level of “social vulnerability.”

Screenshot of Social Vulnerability to COVID-19 Map

It hasn’t been equally easy for everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Some people live in rural areas, far from traditional vaccine providers. Some don’t drive or have a car to get to a clinic or mass vaccination site. Others might not get important vaccine messages in their native language.

Likewise, the risk of catching COVID-19, and its severity, also vary. People who share a home with many families, housemates or roommates or apartment buildings are close to one another and therefore more exposed. People who are older are more at risk for severe disease and complications.

These issues are called “social vulnerability.” They aren’t health issues themselves, but they contribute to health impacts. Our Washington Tracking Network (WTN) created a new “Social Vulnerability to COVID-19” map on the Information by Location tool. The map ranks indicators on a scale of one to 10 by census tract, so it is easy to see areas where these factors are concentrated.

The Social Vulnerability to COVID-19 map is based off the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index. It shows ranks for each measure, and for groups of measures. There are also overlays which show things like pharmacy and clinic locations.

Using data to plan vaccine outreach

The map shows the areas with high social vulnerability to COVID-19 in both urban and rural parts of Washington, east and west. Healthcare providers and planners can use the map to see which areas near them have high social vulnerability ranks. Then they can see what led to that rank and determine if they can do something to mitigate the effects. For example, the map might show them where interpretation and translation services are most needed in an area. This helps improve outreach — and it can also help diversify vaccine distribution methods. For instance, the map may show where a mobile clinic might help overcome transportation issues.

Providers around the state use this data to improve their outreach and vaccine delivery. Here are some of the uses:

  • 28,000 left over vaccine doses from the Long-Term Care Facility program were redistributed to 34 pharmacies across the state. This sent doses where they were needed most and kept them from being wasted.
  • 10 census tracts were prioritized for National Guard mobile vaccination teams.
  • Social vulnerability and other information was combined to determine “high priority” areas. Applications for vaccine providers were fast tracked in these areas.
  • Social vulnerability data was combined with COVID-19 case and vaccination rates to create an assessment to improve equitable vaccination efforts in high-risk areas.

Check out the map to see the social vulnerabilities in your area. If you haven’t gotten your vaccine yet, we encourage you to do so — and soon. But rest assured that providers across the state are working hard to make it easier than ever for everyone to get a vaccine.

More information

Information in this blog changes rapidly. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to everyone 12 and older. For more information about the vaccine, visit CovidVaccineWA.org and use the vaccine locator tool to find an appointment. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.

WA Notify can alert you if you’ve been near another user who tested positive for COVID-19. Add WA Notify to your phone today: WANotify.org

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.

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