Mixed reactions to vaccine mandate at Spokane Veterans Home

SPOKANE, Wash. — On Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that all state employees, private healthcare, and private long-term care workers are required to be fully vaccinated by October 18th.

The only two exemptions to the rule, are if you have a medical or a religious reason.

There have been mixed responses from employees at the Spokane Veteran’s home following the announcement. David Puente Jr., deputy director for Washington State’s Department of Veteran’s Affairs explained they agree with the mandate.

“To be honest, the reactions are anger, fear, concerns, glad, ‘It’s about time,’ so it’s on both sides of the aisle as far as when it comes to the vaccine requirement,” Puente said. “It’s the right thing to do. We care for our nation’s heroes in our four state veteran’s homes.”

57 percent of the employees at the Spokane Veteran’s Home are unvaccinated. Four tested positive last week, putting residents at risk.

If employees choose not to get vaccinated, per the Governor’s orders, they will be terminated.

Amid a healthcare shortage, while replacing staff could be difficult, Puente is confident they’ll be able to.

“We have a very talented recruiting team that’s continuing to recruit nationwide in order to bring in new talent in in order to be healthcare providers for our organization,” he said. “Overall as an organization, I can say that we’re definitely staying on top to ensure that we’re able to provide the necessary care at a high level for our veterans and our families, that reside in our resident homes.”

Families were questioning why this wasn’t a requirement beforehand. Following the mandate, he said, families of residents now feel encouraged.

“We’re continuing to work with our staff to answer questions,” Puente said. “We’re continuing to work with our state HR to ensure that we’re providing answers as quickly as possible to them, and ultimately our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our residents, staff, and their families.”

They are able to administer COVID-19 vaccines at the Spokane Veteran’s Home and will host vaccine clinics in the future to ensure every employee has the opportunity to get vaccinated by the deadline.

RELATED: More veterans test positive for COVID at Spokane Veterans Home

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