‘Extremely difficult’: Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward addresses city’s vaccine mandate compliance

Nadine Woodward
FILE: Nadine Woodward
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SPOKANE, Wash.– Spokane’s mayor shared a statement on the city’s compliance with the state’s vaccine mandate and its impact on EMTs and paramedics one day after the deadline.

Mayor Nadine Woodward said the city “acted in accordance with the state mandate.” She said the decision on how it would be followed wasn’t easy and she respected the choices of everyone involved.

“These were extremely difficult choices made during extremely difficult times. We respect and support the decisions that have been made and would welcome any of our employees back once they are able to meet the state mandate,” she said.

She said the department will continue to answer the call for help.

“Accommodating in the job of hiring presents an undue hardship and too great of a risk to the public and Spokane Fire Department employees. As it has on the community, the virus has had a significant impact on the department,” Woodard said.

The risk was too high to allow employees to continue working so close to the public during their most vulnerable medical moments, according to Woodward.

Not only was keeping people who were not vaccinated risky, but it could also cost the city time. Woodard said nearly 24,000 hours were lost because people had to quarantine. On top of that, she said more than 4,000 hours were lost to confirmed job-related positive cases through August.

“Every attempt was made to keep employees in good standing and provide time to get the information they needed to make the choice that was best for the individual and their family. We provided options that included accommodations for extra time to follow the state mandate. Several took advantage of those options or withdrew their exemption requests,” Woodward said.

As of Monday, the city had not released the exact number of firefighters who had quit their job over the vaccine mandate. However, there were 52 firefighters who filed for exemptions from the mandate. Of those, 14 ended up withdrawing those requests. An additional 12 of those 52 firefighters are working to get their vaccinations, but needed more time.

You can watch Mayor Woodward’s full response here.

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