City of Spokane asking for religious leader signoff for COVID vaccine exemption

Spokane City Hall
Copyright 4 News Now

SPOKANE, Wash – Spokane firefighters and EMTs who want a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine have to get a form signed by a religious leader, or fill out a personal belief statement.

The city shared its exemption request forms with 4 News Now Thursday. The requirement is not in place for most city employees, but does affect firefighters and EMTs.

Gov. Jay Inslee is requiring all first responders to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs. The same mandate is in place for teachers, school staff, coaches and all state employees.

Since the announcement earlier this month, state agencies and school districts have been working on forms for employees to request medical or religious exemptions. Agencies are following some of the same guidelines, but do vary in the language.

BACK STORY: Who qualifies for a ‘religious exemption’ from the COVID-19 vaccine?

The City of Spokane has two options for employees requesting religious exemption. They can fill out a personal statement form outlining their religious beliefs and why those beliefs prohibit the COVID-19 vaccine. They can also have a religious leader fill out a form, providing the basis of the faith that is contrary to the practice of vaccination.

Very few organized religions object to vaccination.

The form says “The City will consider a request for a religious exemption consistent with applicable law that does not impose more than a minimal hardship on the organization or pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others.”

It also says religious exemptions must be requested once a year.

The form also requires the employee to acknowledge that not being vaccinated means they assume all the risks of non-vaccination and removes liability from the city.

Employees can also request a medical exemption, which requires certification from a healthcare provider.

RELATED COVERAGE: Spokane bishop says parish schools must follow vaccine and mask mandate