Eastside Fire & Rescue response times to 'remain unaffected' thanks to high vaccinations, officials say

Despite the statewide vaccine mandate going into effect Monday, Eastside Fire & Rescue response times will remain unaffected, officials say.

The department says they reached a 93% vaccination rate among response staff, and will be able to keep operating at peak efficiency. EF&R hosted a vaccination clinic at Lake Sammamish State Park, with the opportunity for staff to get their shots or apply for an exemption. Accommodations were made for employees who qualified.

"Our staff worked to educate, counsel, and make accommodations for our nonvaccinated employees," said Fire Chief Jeff Clark. "This effort enabled us to plan for workforce changes and make staffing adjustments to ensure response times remain unaffected."

Still, though, 7% of members did not get vaccinated, and some had to be let go from the department.

"We are saddened by the loss of some of our firefighters," said Assistant Chief Ben Lane. "We continue to prioritize safety for our employees and community through COVID-19 vaccination."

EF&R says it will expand recruitment to cover the loss of unvaccinated workers, and urge people to consider getting the vaccine if they have not already.

RELATED: Police Officers Guild: Emergency response times will suffer due to vaccine mandate

READ MORE: Deadline arrives for unvaccinated Washington state workers

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