WENATCHEE — Twenty-eight state Department of Transportation employees from the North Central region retired or were fired due to the state's vaccine mandate.

Irvin Alloway, a Cashmere resident and state transportation employee for about 22 years, attended a Wenatchee anti-vaccine mandate protest on Tuesday to speak out against the mandate.

"I really would hope that there would be enough people that would wake up to the tyranny that the government is imposing on the citizens of Washington state," he said. "I'm making a stand against tyranny and hoping that enough people will make a stand and then something will happen."

At first he applied for a religious exemption, but it was not approved, he said, so he decided to retire. Alloway said that he was asked while applying for his exemption that if he had received vaccines in the past, why he had a problem with COVID-19 vaccines.

He said that he did not trust any mRNA vaccines and believed that COVID-19 vaccines had problems.

All COVID-19 vaccines approved and authorized in the country are safe and effective against preventing severe COVID-19 disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Across the state, 402 state Department of Transportation employees were fired or retired due to the mandate. Only 94 out of 583 religious and medical exemptions got an accommodation that was approved. 

By the end of the work day on Oct. 18, the deadline for the state's mandate, 6,411 employees were fully vaccinated, or about 94%. Another 108 employees are on leave until they become fully vaccinated. 

"At a high level, these departures will affect our general staffing," said Kris Rietmann Abrudan, a WSDOT spokesperson. "It will take some time for us to assess that now that we know how many have left, what their positions were and where they were located. We're not going to speculate."

Here in the North Central region, the department of transportation is recruiting for permanent and temporary winter highway maintenance workers across North Central Washington and entry-level transportation engineers in Wenatchee, according to Dave Bierschbach, WSDOT North Central region administrator.

Some of the openings are new and the result of the mandate, but some of the openings are from even earlier in the pandemic, Bierschbach said. Open positions for the department of transportation can be found here: wwrld.us/wsdot.

Oscar Rodriguez: (509) 665-1179

rodriguez@wenatcheeworld.com

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