Vaccinations taking place. File photo

Vaccinations taking place. File photo

Inslee: No ‘massive disruptions’ as worker vax rates hit 90%

A surge in vaccinations has eased concern about service slowdowns ahead of a Monday deadline.

COVID-19 vaccination rates are surging in state agencies, erasing worries of widespread interruptions to government services ahead of next week’s deadline for workers to prove they are fully vaccinated to avoid losing their jobs.

Nearly 92% of employees had received the jab or obtained an accommodation as of Oct. 7, according to a report issued Monday by the state Office of Financial Management. Two weeks earlier, the rate stood at 68.1%.

”The sky-high vaccination rates we’re seeing should settle any concerns. There will not be massive disruptions in state services,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement.

Of 61,821 workers covered in the report, 89.5% had been vaccinated or had completed the process of getting an exemption and accommodation. The rate rises to 91.9% once those with accommodations are removed from the total.

Inslee predicted higher vaccination numbers by the Oct. 18 deadline he set for employees of executive branch agencies to comply. The original directive implied workers could lose their jobs immediately. But agreements negotiated with unions create other paths, from unpaid leave to retiring, to avert termination.

“The first numbers gathered showed around 49 percent, now we are over 90 percent. The numbers show this strategy to increase vaccinations has been a great success,” Inslee said. “These high vaccination rates will continue to increase, and union-negotiated impacts will give more time to reconsider their choices as they take unpaid leave. “

At the Department of Corrections, 90.6% of 2,616 agency employees had been vaccinated. That figure doesn’t include those employed at the correctional facilities.

At the Monroe Correctional Complex, 88.4% of its 1,111 employees were vaccinated. Accommodations — which pertain to figuring out where an unvaccinated person could do their job and under what additional health and safety requirements — have proved hard to obtain, since it is likely many requests are from correctional officers.

Of 69 requests for religious exemptions, 53 were granted and 16 withdrawn. Of those 53, accommodations were granted for two and denied for 51. There have been 16 requests for medical exemptions, of which four were approved and one accommodation granted.

Figures for other state agencies include 88.5% for the Washington State Patrol, 86.8% at the Liquor and Cannabis Board, and 96% at the Department of Ecology.

At the Department of Social and Health Services, 90.8% of 9,854 employees were vaccinated, while the rate for the state Department of Transportation was 91.7% of its 6,608 workers.

While Inslee predicted limited impacts, the mandate is already affecting some services.

Washington State Ferries cancelled a number of sailings in recent days due to a lack of workers. Those crew shortages were largely caused by what one official described as a “perfect storm” of workers being sick with COVID-19, in close contact with ill people or unwilling to work under the governor’s vaccine mandate.

More than two dozen ferry workers have signed onto a lawsuit in Walla Walla County Superior Court against the mandate. And several state ferry workers, educators and public safety employees are among more than 100 workers suing the governor and state agency heads over the requirement. That lawsuit was filed in federal court this month.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterburg (File Photo)
King County Prosecuting Attorney vows to protect reproductive freedom

Dan Satterberg joins over 80 prosecutors from around the country in their pledge.

Auburn Police
Dog bites girl, threatens officer, officer shoots dog

On May 13, the Auburn Police Department was dispatched to the 1800… Continue reading

Teaser
King County approves emergency grant after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Washington is expecting an influx of people seeking abortions from out of state.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Auburn High School graduates proudly don the Trojan colors. Photo courtesy of Auburn School District
Congrats to Auburn School District’s Class of 2022

A total of 1,221 students participated in Class of 2022 graduation ceremonies… Continue reading

File photo
Arsons and hit and runs | Auburn police blotter

The following information is taken from the Auburn Police Department’s daily blotter… Continue reading

John Daniels Jr. and his family pose for a photo with King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. Photo courtesy of Pete von Reichbauer’s office
MLK service medal awarded to Muckleshoot Tribal Councilmember

King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer awarded the 2022 Dr. Martin Luther… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

Most Read