OLYMPIA, Wash. - Nearly 90% of Washington state employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a recent survey released a week before a deadline for workers to either be vaccinated or receive an exemption in order to keep their jobs.
The governor’s Office of Financial Management on Monday released updated numbers that show nearly 90% of the 61,821 state workers covered by the mandate have been vaccinated as of last week, up from just 49% a month ago. More than 1,500 employees have received either a medical or religious exemption and have been accommodated by their agencies, according to the state, which increases the vaccination rate of non-accommodated employees to 92%.
Under the mandate issued by Gov. Jay Inslee in August, full vaccination is considered two weeks after a final dose, meaning workers needed to receive a final dose of either Pfizer or Moderna, or the one-shot dose of Johnson & Johnson by Oct. 4.
The governor’s mandate also applies to most state workers, long-term care employees, and teachers and staff at the state’s schools, including the state’s colleges and universities. The only opt-out is a medical or religious exemption, though the exemption only ensures continued employment if a job accommodation can be made, such as someone doing telemedicine instead of in-person visits.
In a statement, Inslee said that the state has been preparing contingency plans for any potential staffing disruptions after Oct. 18, but said vaccination rates in the state "should settle any concerns."
"There will not be massive disruptions in state services," he wrote.
As of last week, more than 77% of people age 12 and older have initiated vaccination in Washington state and nearly 71% are fully vaccinated.
There have been more than 606,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases — plus about 77,000 "probable" cases — in Washington state, and 8,064 deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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