Washington state agencies report workers mostly meeting vaccination mandate


Check from several state agencies and colleges in the region shows Washington state workers largely complied by the Oct. 18 statewide deadline to get vaccinated or have a medical or religious exemption approved by the employer.

Check from several state agencies and colleges in the region shows Washington state workers largely complied by the Oct. 18 statewide deadline to get vaccinated or have a medical or religious exemption approved by the employer.

Tribune archive photo, 2019

An audit of several state agencies and colleges in the region shows that Washington state workers largely complied before the state’s deadline to get the vaccine or have a medical or religious exemption approved by the employer.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s office said Thursday that Monday’s deadline for verifying state employees was firm and would not be extended, The Olympian reported.

More than 90% of state officials have received the COVID-19 vaccine, Inslee said.

Here is what several state agencies and colleges in the region are reporting

Washington State Department of Corrections

About 91% of all staff in the state’s Department of Corrections turned in their immunization cards on Thursday, DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange said.

“We are very encouraged by the numbers that we see in the number of vaccinated staff who have returned their cards,” Strange said. “At this point, we expect normal operations. “

Strange shared the percentage at a press conference on Friday morning.

She said 502 of the 8,900 employees across all divisions could separate on Friday. However, she warned that the situation remains fluid.

“Some people are waiting until the last minute to return these cards, so we’re hopeful with these numbers,” Strange said. “I expect more to arrive today or on the weekend and Monday.”

She said Clallam Bay Correctional Center and Washington State Penitentiary are two facilities that management is monitoring closely with regards to separations.

“We have staff who are willing to relocate and go where their work is needed,” Strange said. “There are two options, right? Either you move staff or you move people in our care and custody. We make these decisions quite independently.

She said about 3% of their workforce is accommodated in some way or is on protected leave such as military service or family medical leave.

The people accommodated would no longer be in direct contact with the incarcerated population, said deputy prison secretary Michael Oberland.

Depending on the situation on Monday, Strange said she may ask Gov. Jay Inslee to issue a proclamation, temporarily suspending the transfer of people from prisons to DOC facilities.

“It’s not so much because of contingency planning or because we don’t have a staff,” Strange said. “It’s about freezing the movement for a minute so that we can let some people settle in and prevent COVID from entering the department with the change coming. “

On Thursday, Strange said the DOC had approved 81 of 91 medical accommodation requests. She added that they were still treating the other 10.

Regarding religious accommodations, she said there had been around 600 such requests. About half of them are housed or people are on protected leave, she said.

An earlier report from Oct. 11 said about 90.6 percent of the state’s 2,616 Department of Corrections employees at its headquarters had been vaccinated.

Excluding approved accommodation, about 92.8% of the 2,553 workers were vaccinated, according to the report.

The report states that the Cedar Creek Correctional Center in Littlerock had 123 employees vaccinated at 86.2%.

According to the report, only two people had approved accommodation at the facility on Monday.

Of the 16 workers who requested religious exemptions, the report says eight were approved and an equal amount was denied. Cedar Creek only approved one medical exemption and denied another, according to the report.

Meanwhile, about 87.5% of the 529 workers at Stafford Creek Correctional Center in Aberdeen have been vaccinated. The report indicates that only two people had approved accommodation at this facility.

Stafford Creek received 33 requests for religious exemption, according to the report. Nine were closed or withdrawn and 24 were approved.

The facility approved four medical exemptions and one remains pending Monday, according to the report.

According to the report, 89.7% of 629 workers had been vaccinated at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton on Monday. Only two other workers had approved accommodation at this establishment.

For this facility, the report says there were 31 requests for religious exemptions – of which 20 were approved and 11 were closed or withdrawn.

Medical exemption requests are only six at this facility, according to the report. Two remained pending on Monday, two were approved and two were closed or withdrawn.

The correctional facility with the lowest vaccination rate on Monday was Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla at 84.7%, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the report says Mission Creek Correctional Center in Belfair retained the highest vaccination rate at 91.9% on Monday.

Washington State Department of Transportation

The state’s Department of Transportation said it had 6,800 employees as of Oct. 11. About 90.5% of DOT employees have validated vaccinations or approved exemptions and associated accommodations.

Specifically, the department received a total of 569 religious exemption requests and approved 450 as of Oct. 11, according to data from the Bureau of Financial Management. The ministry also approved 44 related accommodation requests and denied 414.

The ministry also received 84 medical exemption requests in total and approved 78, as well as 40 accommodation requests and denied nine.

Kris Rietmann Abrudan, communications director for DOT, said it’s hard to speculate or predict how many employees will be lost as a result of the tenure. She said the ministry sees people validating their vaccination status or exemption every day and they will likely continue to see it until the deadline.

Washington State Department of Health

The state’s health ministry said it had 2,623 employees as of Oct. 11, according to data from the Bureau of Financial Management. As of this date, 90.28% of the workforce has been vaccinated.

The department has received 148 religious exemption requests so far, 112 have been approved and three have been denied. Seventy-four religious accommodations were approved and three were refused. So far, 16 medical exemptions have been approved and none have been denied, as well as eight medical accommodations approved and five denied.

Washington State Patrol

The Washington State Patrol said 88.5% of its 2,184 employees had been vaccinated, according to an Oct.11 report. Excluding approved accommodation, 89.9% of 2,149 workers were vaccinated, according to the report.

WSP spokesman Chris Loftis said the vaccination rate has gradually improved this week, but declined to share a more updated tally before the deadline expires.

Of the 381 workers who requested religious exemptions, the report says 354 have been approved, 22 have been closed or withdrawn and 5 remain on hold. None of these requests were refused.

However, 336 requests for accommodation on religious grounds were refused while only 18 were approved, according to the report.

For medical exemptions, the report shows that 47 out of 62 requests were approved. Twelve were refused and three are still pending. WSP approved 17 requests for medical accommodation and rejected 17, according to the report. Six of these requests remain pending.

Washington State Department of Labor and Industry

As of Monday, October 11, 87.23% of the 3,101 employees of the Ministry of Labor and Industry have been vaccinated. Only 158 employees have been approved for exemption measures.

According to spokesperson Tim Church, the number of employees who have not communicated their vaccination or exemption status continues to decline daily.

“At this point, we have less than 100 people who could lose their mandate-related jobs – 29 who did not report their immunization status, 50 who we were unable to accommodate in their current positions, 18 who told us whether they resign or retire, ”Church said Friday.

“However, we do hope and believe these numbers will continue to drop before Monday’s deadline,” he said.

Washington State Department of Business Services

As of Monday, Oct. 11, 90.03 percent of the Department of Business Services’ 732 employees had been vaccinated and no employees had been approved for accommodation.

A number of employees have received “departure notices,” but they will still have the option of keeping their jobs, according to DES spokeswoman Linda Kent.

The evergreen state college

Evergreen was one of the first to adopt a widespread vaccine requirement, the college said Thursday, and this resulted in the following results: 100% of faculty and nearly 97% of staff provided proof of vaccine or an approved religion. or medical dispensation.

According to university spokeswoman Kelly Von Holtz, the three percent of staff who have not yet complied with the vaccination mandate can be broken down as follows: one employee, who will not be fully vaccinated until Monday, will use unpaid leave until they are fully immunized. An additional employee, who is on extended sick leave, has been told he needs to provide vaccination documents before he returns to work.

The college is awaiting data on two new employees and one new volunteer, Von Holtz said.

“We had a total of eight staff who requested religious or medical exemptions,” she said. “Seven of them were approved for reasonable management plans. A staff member refused reasonable accommodation and will be separated on Monday. “

South Puget Sound Community College

The college has 448 full-time staff, professors and adjunct professors. In addition to the 425 employees who are fully vaccinated, three are in the process of becoming so and 19 have approved exemptions, the college said.

This brings the total to 447.

“Unfortunately, unless we request a last minute exemption, we will lose a full-time staff member because of this,” spokeswoman Kelly Green said on Friday. “We are incredibly grateful to all of the employees who have worked with us throughout this process and we are grateful that our students don’t see any midterm disruption because of it. “

Journalist Rolf Boone also contributed to this report.

Rolf has been with The Olympian since August 2005. He covers breaking news, Lacey’s town and business for the newspaper. Rolf graduated from Evergreen State College in 1990.

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