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Washington ends COVID-19 vaccine requirements for state employees

Megan Farmer

Washington State employees will no longer be required to get a COVID-19 vaccination in order to keep their jobs.

Washington's COVID-19 emergency declaration ended months ago, but Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that he is rescinding the requirement for state employees to get their COVID-19 shot, effective May 11.

The decision comes after the World Health Organization announced the end of the global COVID-19 health emergency last week, and the Biden Administration removed vaccination requirements for federal employees and contractors this week.

Mike Faulk, Inslee's deputy communications director, said ending the vaccine requirement aligns with those decisions.

"It came time to sort of move back from that approach and do another one, which is the incentive," he said.

Starting this summer, Washington will provide a $1,000 cash incentive to employees who stay up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Faulk says the removal of the requirement means employees who were fired or resigned after refusing the vaccine are eligible to re-apply for state employment if they want to.

The Washington Federation of State Employees, which represents nearly 47,000 state workers, said in a web post that it hopes to negotiate options for members who lost their jobs while the mandate was active, instead of leaving them to re-apply and compete for positions.

"We are hoping to bargain otherwise and negotiate return rights and possibly re-establish seniority, leave, etc., but the feasibility of that is still unclear," the post said.

Copyright 2023 Northwest News Network. To see more, visit Northwest News Network.

Jeanie Lindsay