King County, State of Washington and City of Seattle announce vaccination requirement for most employees, private health care and long-term care workers

Monday, August 9, 2021

l-r Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, KC Executive Dow Constantine, Gov. Jay Inslee, interpreter, and KC Public Health Office Jeffrey Duchin (Office of the Governor photo)

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced King County will now require all employees to be fully vaccinated, effective October 18, 2021. 

To meet this requirement, employees must have received their second shot of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or first shot of a Johnson and Johnson vaccine, by October 4, 2021, and provide verified proof of vaccination. The requirement will apply to employees in the Executive branch, including the Assessor, Elections, and Sheriff's Office.

"A healthy King County depends on every eligible resident getting vaccinated. With the Delta variant surging, it is high time for everyone to do their part to protect one another, our children and our economy,” said Executive Constantine. 

“Joining with the state and the City of Seattle, we’re helping close the vaccination gaps in our community and our workforce, to get everyone across the finish line and move our community forward into recovery.”

Gov. Jay Inslee announced a requirement for most state workers, and on-site contractors and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment. State employees and workers in private health care and long-term care settings will have until October 18, 2021 to be fully vaccinated.

The requirement applies to state workers, regardless of teleworking status. This applies to executive cabinet agencies, but the governor encouraged all others such as higher education, local governments, the legislative branch, other statewide elected officials and organizations in the private sector to do the same.

It does not apply to employees who report to the state’s independently elected officials such as the secretary of state or the commissioner of public lands.

“It is the mission of public servants and those providing health care to serve our fellow Washingtonians. These workers live in every community in our state, working together and with the public every day to deliver services,” Inslee said. 

“We have a duty to protect them from the virus, they have the right to be protected, and the communities they serve and live in deserve protection as well.”

The governor made the announcement at a press conference on Monday at Kaiser Permanente in Seattle. He was joined by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Kaiser Permanente Washington President Susan Mullaney, Washington State Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah, and Seattle-King County Public Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Duchin.

The new requirement includes well-defined exemptions to the vaccine. Individuals with legitimate medical reasons or sincerely held religious reasons will be exempt. The exemptions do not include personal or philosophical objections.

Prior to the governor’s announcement, Kaiser Permanente WA mandated that it would be requiring all its employees to be vaccinated.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said that "Vaccines are safe, effective and save lives. City of Seattle employees must be fully vaccinated by 10/18 to help us reopen safely while protecting employees and public. We will evaluate plans based on science plus King County Public Health guidance."

The announcement comes as Washington is experiencing a severe increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations in every county, due to the Delta variant, with the overwhelming majority of cases and hospitalizations being among unvaccinated Washingtonians.


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