WENATCHEE — With Monday’s vaccine deadline in the rearview mirror, most school and health care employees in North Central Washington complied by either getting vaccinated or applying for and receiving an exemption.
Mandated by Gov. Jay Inslee in August, most state employees were required to either receive a COVID-19 vaccine or apply for a medical or religious exemption. According to the governor’s Aug. 9 mandate, those who did not comply with the requirement and did not receive an exemption would face termination from their position.
In the Wenatchee School District, 87.7% of staff members are fully vaccinated. According to district spokesperson Diana Haglund, 132 employees applied for and received exemptions from the mandate. Additionally, Haglund said two employees resigned as a result of the requirement.
At the Eastmont School District, 82% of the staff is fully vaccinated. No Eastmont employees resigned as a result of the mandate. Superintendent Garn Christensen said all 145 employees — about 17% of the district’s workforce — who applied for a religious or medical exemption were granted one.
“Employees granted exemptions have accommodations to their positions that include KN95 masks, additional masking/face shields, regular testing, alternate assignments, or various combinations of these accommodations,” Christensen wrote in a Monday afternoon email.
Chelan County Fire District 1 Chief Brian Brett said over 99% of firefighters in Chelan County 1 are vaccinated. He did not have data for Douglas County Fire District 2, which he also leads, but Brett said the district is “less than that.” No one in either department resigned due to the mandate, Brett said, but approximately nine religious exemptions were granted between the two districts.
“They have to go through the protocols of masking, negative tests,” Brett said of those who received exemptions.
Monday afternoon, Confluence Health spokesperson Dustin Boreson said the health care provider does not yet have final numbers on its staff vaccination rate. As of Oct. 8, the Confluence staff vaccination rate was 91.2%. Confluence also issued 229 religious and medical exemptions and 23 staff members resigned due to the mandate.
At Cascade Medical in Leavenworth, 97% of the staff are vaccinated. According to spokesperson Clint Strand, five employees resigned as a result of the mandate. Of the 15 personnel who applied for a medical or religious exemption, all 15 were granted an exemption.
“While individual requirements varied, Cascade Medical crafted each accommodation with our primary focus on maintaining a safe work and caregiving environment for all,” Strand wrote in an email Monday.