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Data error creates large gap between state, CDC vaccine data for Spokane County

Federal vaccine data from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs still is not included in Washington’s state vaccine data.

So in a community like Spokane County, home to Fairchild Air Force Base, it would make sense that federal vaccine data likely counts more local residents who have been vaccinated than does the state data from the Department of Health.

Recently, however, the difference between state and federal vaccine counts was separated by 10 percentage points, an incredibly large gap despite the difference in how each agency gets its data.

This was due to an error in the federal vaccine reporting system, which counted a duplicate 35,000 doses administered at Rite Aid stores across the county.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the error last week and plans to update its data dashboard accordingly this week.

The correction will likely bring state and federal vaccine data much closer together. Both the CDC and the Department of Health are using similar population figures to estimate vaccine rates in the county.

According to the state, 275,173 people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Spokane County.

This amounts to about 61.8% of the eligible population over age 12 and 52.7% of the total population in the county.

The CDC erroneously reported 320,457 people had first doses in Spokane County, which amounted to 71.8% of the eligible population and 61.3% of the total population with at least one dose.

However, once they correct the error, these figures will likely be just slightly higher than state data.

Subtracting 35,000 duplicate doses from county data, as long as they were first doses, would likely mean that the CDC has counted about 285,457 people with first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in Spokane County, or about 10,000 more people than state figures show.

That total would mean about 55% of the total population is likely vaccinated in Spokane County, a number much lower than what health officials and experts say is necessary to achieve adequate vaccine coverage.

To find a vaccine in Washington, use the state’s vaccine locator tool or call (800) 525-0127, then press #.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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