Gov. Inslee softens vaccine mandate deadline for some state workers

Oct 5, 2021, 12:12 PM

Gov Inslee, emergency powers...

Gov. Jay Inslee. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

After stating early on that his office would not be offering extensions to unvaccinated state employees ahead of an Oct. 18 vaccine mandate deadline, Gov. Jay Inslee has now relaxed that position to allow some exceptions for certain workers.

Thousands gather for anti-vaccine mandate rally in Olympia

Monday, Oct. 4, marked the final day for state employees to either get their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or the first and only dose of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, to account for the two-week period needed to achieve full vaccination. The expectation is that state workers who aren’t fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 will be terminated from their positions.

This week, though, Inslee’s office indicated to the Seattle Times that conditions agreed to with state unions in September would also extend to certain non-represented workers, particularly those who had sought an exemption to the vaccine mandate.

That means thousands of state employees not directly represented by labor unions — including managers and those working under agency executives — will get 45 days of leave to get fully vaccinated if their request for an exemption was denied. Those who have received either one or two doses of the vaccine but aren’t yet fully vaccinated by the Oct. 18 deadline will also be allowed to use as many as 30 days of unpaid leave to complete the process.

In late September, Gov. Inslee had said that his office was “not considering extending the deadline for vaccination of state employees.”

New King County vaccine requirement a ‘sensible step’

“This vaccine is readily available and people have had a chance, and still have a chance, to get it,” he said at the time.

Similar grace periods have been built into vaccine mandate agreements with King County and Seattle employee unions as well. For Seattle, employees in unions included in the deal can keep their job if they begin the vaccination process by Oct. 18, and then go on leave until they are fully vaccinated.

King County allows its own union employees to avoid being fired for not being compliant with the mandate if they complete the vaccination process by Dec. 2, 2021.

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Gov. Inslee softens vaccine mandate deadline for some state workers