Rantz: COVID vaccines will be mandated for all WA, King County, and Seattle staff
All state, King County, and Seattle employees will be told they must receive a COVID-19 vaccine or face possible termination, the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH has confirmed.
Governor Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan will announce the policy at a joint press conference that’s currently scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday.
The policy purportedly mirrors an Attorney General draft policy, which Bob Ferguson’s office distributed on July 20.
Vaccine mandate details
The vaccine mandate for Washington, King County and Seattle city employees would go into effect in October. This gives employees enough time to schedule an appointment for the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson shots. The policy is meant to take effect after officials believe the vaccines will earn the Food and Drug Administration approval.
Under the plan, government employees with deeply held religious convictions or a medical reason may seek reasonable accommodations. According to a government source, the policy will be subject to impact bargaining with various unions, some of which have expressed opposition to the mandate.
Masks will still be required for the vaccinated, as of now, when in public, indoor settings.
The messaging behind the mandate will be that this is for the safety of the employees and the public they interact with regularly. Inslee, Constantine, and Durkan are expected to tout data showing the efficacy of the vaccine.
Nearly 70% of Washington’s 12+ population has already received at least one COVID vaccine shot.
Inslee previously signaled he would not mandate the vaccine. But he’s walked that back in recent weeks. His office would not say the governor disagreed with a draft policy mandating vaccines at the Attorney General’s office. And last week he said more must be done to get people vaccinated.
“Some people are in employment where they present a risk to their clients and to the public if they are not vaccinated,” Inslee said. “We are considering measures to require people to become vaccinated in those conditions.”
Expected pushback and support
Over the coming weeks, this policy will be subject to bargaining with local unions.
“We have some concerns that it’s not a fully vetted vaccine through the FDA,” King County Corrections Guild president Dennis Folk told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “We’re concerned there could be side effects and how they’ll treat side effects. Will it be under [Labor and Industries] benefits?”
Folk said he has members of his union who do not want the vaccine due to religious beliefs or simply their personal views on these particular vaccines.
“Will they move to terminate those employees when we’re already critically low on staff?” he asks.
King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that he was unaware of whether or not the county was considering this, but he’s supportive.
“There’s been no discussion of it at the county council that I’m aware of. If required to protect the health of others, I would support it as a condition of employment,” Dembowski said via email.
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