Deadline for state workers to get COVID-19 vaccine is Monday

Washington's vaccine mandate for state workers is Monday—if an employee is not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by then, they may be out of work.

The deadline to get fully vaccinated is Monday, Oct. 18, and to meet this deadline, state workers would have had to get their final vaccine dose on Oct. 4. Just a week ago, the state announced nearly 90% of its workforce had been vaccinated.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Last day for state workers in Washington to receive final COVID-19 vaccine in compliance with mandate

RELATED: State: Nearly 90% of Washington workers vaccinated against COVID

Governor Inslee's mandate applies to most state workers, long-term care center employees, and teachers and staff at state’s schools, colleges and universities. Medical and religious exemptions are available, but will require some other accommodation; for instance, a healthcare worker doing telemedicine instead of in-person visits.

Kristen Giebel is a state employee and has worked as a Community Corrections Officer in Mount Vernon for three years.

"I received an exemption through my work, but they can’t accommodate my exemption, so I’m still up for termination. So on Monday, it will be my last day," said Giebel. "Good news is I did actually get another job so I’m not going to be unemployed. I chose not to get the vaccine and I chose not to follow through with the mandate knowing that I was going to lose my job, which is unfortunate because I’m really close with all my coworkers. Just because I’m not currently vaccinated doesn’t mean in the future I’m not going to get vaccinated. I just really don’t support the government telling me what I can and can’t do with my body."

Inslee said the state has prepared contingency plans for possible staffing disruptions after the Monday deadline, but said vaccination rates in the state "should settle any concerns."

"There will not be massive disruptions in state services," he wrote.

Seattle Public Schools said more than 140 bus routes have been suspended beginning on Monday because of a worker shortage.

"Because of the vaccine mandate kicking in, Seattle Public Schools is losing, we're not totally sure, but 20 to 30 drivers, and they were already severely short-staffed," said Mary Ellen Russell, Chair of the School Traffic Safety Committee.

Russell said the district is taking action to give rides to students who are transportation dependent and have no other means of getting to school.

"They are working to use van pools from King County Metro. They’re trying to identify students at the Tier 4 schools who are having their buses cut, who are transportation dependent and won’t be able to get to school now. They’re going to have ten vans on the street this week and try to expand it as they need to in order to meet demand," said Russell.

Russell said families with students who are transportation dependent and had their buses cut should reach out to their school office. The school office is supposed to forward the information to the transportation department to coordinate rides, according to Russell.

"It will get better, but we all gotta hang in there. It’s going to be a long haul," said Russell.

As it stands, 71.4% of Washingtonians are fully vaccinated, according to the State Department of Health.

There have been more than 606,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases — plus about 77,000 "probable" cases — in Washington state, and 8,064 deaths.

You can see a breakdown of each department's vaccination status here.

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