Gov. Inslee announces mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all public school employees

Posted 8/18/21

Gov. Jay Inslee ordered school employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 18.

Inslee announced the requirement at a press conference Wednesday.

Those who do not get vaccinations can be …

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Gov. Inslee announces mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all public school employees


Gov. Jay Inslee ordered school employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 18.

Inslee announced the requirement at a press conference Wednesday.

The requirement includes teachers, bus drivers, coaches, school staff, custodians, school volunteers, and others who work in school facilities.

Those who do not get vaccinations can be fired, he added.

"This is a legally binding document," Inslee said of his order that requires all K-12 employees, as well as those working in childcare, early learning, and higher education, to get vaccinated.

The new requirement, which also included an expansion of the statewide mask mandate that requires all people in indoor public spaces to wear masks regardless of vaccination status, was prompted by the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. 

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Washington hit 517,214 Wednesday, with 6,269 deaths due to the coronavirus and 28,979 Washingtonians hospitalized due to the disease.

"These vaccines are incredibly effective. Amazingly effective," Inslee said. "They are a medical miracle."

The vaccines are a double miracle, he added, by saving tens of thousands of lives in Washington and by having "minimal side effects."

The governor added: "169 million Americans already know this is true."

New cases of COVID-19 are largely due to people who have not been vaccinated against the disease.

"More than 95 percent of the COVID hospitalizations we see today are among the unvaccinated," Inslee said.

"Those are the people we love and we care for and it is heart-wrenching to see," he said.

The more people that are vaccinated, Inslee said, the closer Washington will come to stopping the transmission of the virus.

Without the requirement for vaccinations, the governor added, people will continue to be susceptible to new variants of COVID-19.

"This is the right thing to do to save lives in the state of Washington," he said.

"We are well past the point where testing is enough to keep people safe. We tried it. It has not been adequate to the task at hand," Inslee added.

Washington state broke its previous record of hospitalizations due to COVID this week, Inslee said.

"This virus mutated. There's a new game in town."

"This is a new fight. The Delta variant presents a whole new challenge to the state of Washington," Inslee said.

Vaccines work and masks work, he added.

Inslee also said the virus is increasingly impacting young people and was spreading primarily among those who have not been vaccinated.

"More of us have to do our part," Inslee said.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal thanked Inslee for the vaccination order and asked public education employees to get jabbed.

"I need you to step up again," Reykdal said to school workers.

Opening schools and keeping them open is important, he said. If outbreaks happen after the students go back to class, students will suffer. Schools will be closed and jobs will be impacted if COVID, Reykdal said.

"Shutdowns have impacts," he said, and noted getting employees vaccinated was the best opportunity available to keep schools open.

"Our goal here is safety first and foremost," he said. "We know we can open our schools and keep them open and keep our students and staff safe."

The pandemic is different now than when COVID-19 first started spreading in Washington. 

The Delta variant, he said, is more easily spread.

"Delta is different. It's more transmissible," he said. 

"Please get your vaccines," Reykdal said.


3 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • MargeS

    Thank you Governor Inslee, and to you out there not vaccinated, or masking up (you know who you are) why are you making this so much more difficult than it needs to be?

    Wednesday, August 18, 2021 Report this

  • MargeS

    and to those people who are protesting because they don't care about others, just themselves, the Supreme Court has upheld the right of Government, businesses, schools, hospitals to mandate vaccinations, & masks. And to you standing out there crying for your own freedom, you got it, don't get vaccinated, don't wear a mask, but stay away from those of us who understand we could make people sick or kill them if we don't get vaccinated and wear a mask. Grow up and accept responsibility to protect your loved ones and neighbors.

    Thursday, August 19, 2021 Report this

  • jconley

    Vaccination mandates, as well as masking and social distancing mandates, are unfortunate. It's unfortunate that common sense and advice from medical and public health experts are not enough to get people to do the right things. It's unfortunate that caring about one's fellow humans is not enough to convince many to do the right things. But, here we are. Mandates for vaccination and for preventive measures like masks and distancing are necessary. I commend our Governor for having the courage to implement (at this time) the strictest mandates for vaccination, when it comes to health care workers and school employees, in our Nation. Thank you, Governor Inslee.

    John Conley

    Thursday, August 19, 2021 Report this