OLYMPIA — COVID-19 vaccination rates at state agencies in Washington have climbed in recent weeks, ahead of a deadline for workers to be fully vaccinated or lose their jobs.
Under Gov. Jay Inslee’s August order — considered one of the strictest in the nation — state and school workers and hundreds of thousands of health care employees are required to get their shots or lose their jobs on Oct. 18, unless they have received both a medical or religious exemption and a work accommodation. In order to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18, workers would have had to get their final shot by Oct. 4.
The mandate spurred union reaction and lawsuits, along with more workers getting vaccinated. Labor deals and actions by the administration have effectively extended the deadline for many state workers.
The Seattle Times reported that as of noon Thursday, the Department of Corrections, which had previously lagged behind many other agencies in percentage of vaccinated workers, has verified that 89% of its workers have received their COVID-19 shots.
DOC isn’t the only large Washington agency to see its vaccination rates rise as part of the mandate. As of Thursday, the Department of Social and Health Services — the largest state agency — had verified 91% of its workers as vaccinated.
At the Department of Children, Youth and Families, that number stood at nearly 87%, and at the Washington State Patrol, 93% of its workers have been vaccinated.