Gov. Inslee uses emergency powers to mandate COVID vaccines for state workers

Aug 9, 2021, 1:11 PM | Updated: 3:32 pm
inslee, mandate...
Gov. Jay Inslee at a press conference announcing a new vaccine requirement. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor)
(Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor)

Get vaccinated against COVID-19 or get a new job: That’s the order to most state workers and workers in private health care, long-term care, and other congregate settings in the latest proclamation from Gov. Jay Inslee.

An identical mandate issued by Executive Dow Constantine and Mayor Jenny Durkan will be enacted for King County and Seattle city workers as well.

Health officials worried about a fifth wave in COVID cases, delta variant

Vaccinations must be completed by Oct. 18 to allow for the necessary appointments to be scheduled.

Government employees with deeply held religious convictions or certain medical conditions will be allowed to seek accommodation under this new policy. Employees who decline the vaccine without an approved exception will be subject to disciplinary measures which encompass termination.

The ramifications of the mandate are subject to bargaining agreements with local unions. In a memo obtained by KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show, the King County Corrections Guild stated that they will look to secure agreements that ensure that vaccine appointments constitute paid time, and that vaccination records will be kept as private health information.

The order only applies to workers in Inslee’s cabinet agencies and not to higher education, K-12 employees, legislative or judicial branches, or staff working for separately elected officials. Even so, Inslee is strongly encouraging all of them follow his lead.

State sounds alarm over latest rise in COVID cases

Despite the vaccine mandate, there will be no new order on mask requirements. The governor recently encouraged people to wear masks indoors in areas of high transmission and in K-12 schools, albeit with optional guidance. On top of that, Inslee says if case rates continue to skyrocket, a mask mandate is still a possibility.

King County is currently experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases with a seven day average of 459 positive cases as of Aug. 5. The vaccine mandate is intended to curtail this uptick as health officials caution against a “fifth wave” of coronavirus.

You can read more information on the new vaccination mandate here.

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Gov. Inslee uses emergency powers to mandate COVID vaccines for state workers