Here’s how many Washington state employees have applied for a religious exemption
SPOKANE, Wash.–The deadline for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine is right around the corner and thousands of employees applied for a religious exemption– 4,654 to be exact.
Everyone included in the requirement without an exemption must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. That means Oct. 4 is the last day to get either their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer or the single dose of Johnson and Johnson since it takes two weeks to be considered fully vaccinated.
Who’s included in the mandate?
- State employees
- Higher education employees
- K-12 employees
- Childcare employees
- Most health and long-term care providers
So, here’s a breakdown of some of those requests.
The Washington Department of Transportation has 6,829 employees with a 74-percent vaccination rate. Of its workers, 558 asked for a religious exemption and 422 were approved, though only 34 accommodations were given.
The Airway Heights prison, run by the Department of Correction, has 693 workers with a 55.99-percent vaccination rate. This aligns with Spokane County’s vaccination rate of 55-percent. Forty employees asked to be exempted for religious reasons. Only 14 were approved and two were given accommodations.
You can find a full list of state vaccination rates here.
State data shows that vaccination numbers for Washington state workers subject to the requirement are about 20-percent higher than earlier this month.
It might not be enough for the Washington workers affected by the vaccine mandate to get an exemption.
Some employers can’t find reasonable accommodations for them. That’s leading to them losing their jobs.
Here in the Spokane area, firefighters could have to leave the frontlines because there is no reasonable accommodation for them that also keeps the public safe. That’s the case for 48 firefighters with the Spokane Fire Department.
The Spokane Fire Department isn’t the only agency that could lose some of its emergency crews. The Washington State Patrol could lose more than 10 percent of its workforce over the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. As of Monday, September 20, 374 employees had filed religious exemptions; 284 have been approved, but no accommodations have been found for those employees.
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