Visiting a Spokane hospital today, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said he was committed to enforcing a mandate that requires state workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The mandate has generated a flood of exemption requests, has drawn protest and is being challenged in court. It’s also led to concerns that some state employees and healthcare workers will walk instead of getting a shot. Inslee said he believes when most people get down to the wire, they will choose the vaccine.
“I believe as a result of this we will have more vaccinated people, we will continue to have good services provided, and most importantly we’re going to save a lot of lives in our state,” Inslee said in a virtual press conference Wednesday.
The governor says the state does have a contingency plan to address staff losses. In a pinch, Inslee said National Guard members could also be an option to replace some workers in sanitation, or security roles at health care facilities.
The mandate goes into effect Oct. 18.
Inslee says he is also concerned by the number of surgeries that have been delayed at Spokane County hospitals.
“We have 2,000 people in Spokane County today who haven’t been able to get their cancer treated for goodness sakes because we have other thousands of people in Spokane County who haven’t been willing to get this vaccine,” Inslee says. “That’s very discouraging and it needs to change if we’re ever going to get these people surgery.”
Inslee says he’s asked for federal assistance to address healthcare shortages. He says he’s also hopeful the legislature can address nursing career pipeline issues in the upcoming legislative session.