June 10 (UPI) -- Seattle has become the first large American city to reach 70 percent of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19.The city reported it has administered 250,000 vaccine doses to 131,000 people and that 78 percent of the city's residents over the age of 12 have started the vaccination process.
"Seattle is America's most vaccinated major city, and it would not have been possible without our residents' commitment to protecting themselves, their loved ones and our entire community," Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Wednesday in a statement.
Washington's Lottery has offered a jackpot of over $1 million in a drive to get people vaccinated, which Gov. Jay Inslee said appeared to be working.
Statewide, according to the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Tracker, 58 percent of Washington residents have been vaccinated, which is neck and neck with California and Utah for the highest vaccination rates in the West.
Vermont leads U.S. states with nearly 72 percent vaccinated, along with much of New England and the Northeast.
As a region, the South -- outside of Florida -- is home to the lowest vaccination rates as whole.
Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi report 36 percent of residents as being fully vaccinated.
Vaccine lags in the South are attributed to a variety of reasons, ranging from conservative viewpoints, concerns about vaccines in Black communities and lack of access to healthcare and transportation as a whole, the New York Times reported.
This has led to initiatives, including one from the Birmingham Legion FC professional soccer team based in Birmingham, Ala., which joined efforts to provide free tickets to vaccinated fans.
Meanwhile, a new COVID-19 delta variant has been reported by the Centers for Disease Control to be more contagious and more deadly than the first.
The variant has become the dominant strain in some parts of the world and can cause ailments not seen before, including gangrene.
The news comes as a large portion of Johnson and Johnson's initial run of the vaccine is set to expire on June 23.