Thurston County becomes latest to enact vaccine mandate for county employees

Aug 27, 2021, 10:12 AM | Updated: 10:14 am
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A sign indicating where to wait at a West Seattle vaccine clinic. (MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

Workers employed by Thurston County will soon have to either get vaccinated, submit to weekly testing for COVID-19, or risk losing their jobs.

Inslee: ‘No reason to abandon a career’ over vaccine mandate

According to a report from The Olympian, the Thurston County board of commissioners passed a new resolution this week, after more than two-dozen people voiced their support for a vaccine mandate.

“It’s important that people basically take responsibility for the community and not just themselves,” said one public commenter during this week’s virtual board meeting. “This is thinking in a larger context rather than looking just at your own well-being.”

Anyone who works for the county will either have to submit proof of full vaccination by Oct. 31, or agree to weekly COVID testing. Refusal to choose either option could result in an employee being disciplined and/or fired.

This follows in the wake of a similar mandate put in place for state workers by Gov. Jay Inslee. King County and the City of Seattle also followed suit shortly after Inslee’s announcement in early August. That mandate, though, doesn’t allow for a weekly testing option, and sets an Oct. 18 deadline.

Vaccinations are also required by that same deadline for all K-12 educators and school staff in Washington, as well as those working in higher education.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state are now at the highest they’ve been at any stage in the pandemic.

Washington hospitals strained to their limit by rise in COVID cases

“This pandemic is not slowing down,” state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said during an early-week briefing. “In just a couple of months, the delta variant has ravaged our state, particularly those who are unvaccinated.”

Of those hospitalized for COVID-19 in recent weeks, 95% are unvaccinated. That’s been driven by the prevalence of the delta variant, which now makes up nearly all new COVID cases in Washington.

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Thurston County becomes latest to enact vaccine mandate for county employees