Opinion: Governor’s office stonewalls on providing an update on hardline vaccine mandate

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center shares the latest on the governor’s vaccine mandate on state employees, educators and most health care workers.

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center shares the latest on the governor’s vaccine mandate on state employees, educators and most health care workers

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

In March, Gov. Jay Inslee lifted his indoor mask mandate while making it clear he would not be lifting his vaccine mandate on state employees, educators and most health care workers. 

Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde

Yes, the governor is holding onto his discriminatory and invasive mandate that was outdated even before it began, given what we knew about COVID-19, who is at greatest risk and the fact that the vaccine does not stop the spread of the virus. In fact, he added more employees to his vaccinate-or-terminate list as late as March 23 to include contractors who work with the Secretary of State’s Office — never mind that hospitalization and death rates were down, that neighboring Oregon just announced the end of a similar vaccine mandate on its state workers, or that the state’s new WA Forward campaign is supposed to be transitioning us to an era of personal “empowerment.” 

The state’s Office of Financial Management says that more than 2,100 state workers have been fired, resigned or retired because of the mandate. This has meant disruptions in service levels, including work shortages that contributed to this winter’s mountain pass closures, Washington State Ferry delays, and concerns in public safety, care facilities and hospitals. Worse, it has upended people’s careers and made many Washingtonians less financially secure. 

When both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can spread COVID-19 — and natural immunity is ignored — employment mandates show themselves for what they are: discriminatory and punitive. If a state is looking to ease hospitalizations, an approach that does not discriminate against workers is needed. And low hospitalization rates were used to justify the end of the mask mandate — a far less invasive state mandate.

Harsh COVID-19 policies have been accompanied by a lack of transparency from our governor. 

I’ve asked the governor’s office via email and its phone numbers for both public inquiries and the press several times for an update. Instead of helpful public information, I got an automated voice with this message to my call Thursday: “We’re sorry. The number you have dialed has calling restrictions that have prevented the completion of your call.” 

Inslee refuses to reconsider a misguided policy that is ruining lives and that has lowered the quality of taxpayer-funded services. Refusing to even talk about the vaccine mandate won’t make legitimate questions go away, nor does hunkering down become someone who fancies himself a defender of Democracy. 

Washington should end its hardline vaccine mandate and let dedicated employees who have devoted their lives to public service get back to serving the community.

Elizabeth Hovde is a policy analyst and the director of the Centers for Health Care and Worker Rights at the Washington Policy Center. She is a Clark County resident.


  1. Scott Hooper

    I disagree with much of what you said, and particularly your judgments.

    But, now that we do know the vaccine’s impact on viral spread, I agree that most should be taken off of the “mandatory” list. I still think it’s valuable for employees who serve our most vulnerable (care facilities, hospitals), but then I think we should mandate flu vaccines for such people too, but we don’t. Although, flu is more than ten times less deadly than COVID.

    I think Inslee and WA’s government did a better than average job managing the pandemic. But I’m ready for it to all be over… not just the deaths, but the socio/political discord.

    1. Brad

      You’re extremely misinformed, and virtually every statement you made in incorrect!

      1. It’s not a vaccine; it’s gene therapy. Ever check into the hostory of mRNA treatments? You’ll be very disappointed.
      2. The “vaccine” doesn’t work. It doesn’t prevent you from getting it, spreading it and frankly those that have taken the jab have had a very tough time with variants.
      3. Flu has a death rate of roughly 1.5%’ Covid is much, much less. Rachel Walensky verified late last Summer that only 6% had dies from Covid, and that there were an average of 4 comorbidities/
  2. Melissa

    WA Department of Health (DOH) runs cover for the governor by refusing to share reinfection data and rates by immune status, which hides the effectiveness of natural immunity

    DOH claims that reinfection rates cannot be made, but this claim is disingenuous. They support the governor’s mandate against natural immunity by referencing a CDC study (link below) comparing rates by immune status: the very thing they claim can’t be done!

    The study draws two conclusions about natural immunity: 1) Natural immunity offers better protection than the vaccines, and 2) Natural immunity plus vaccines improves immunity a little bit more. DOH uses conclusion #2 as justification for mandating vaccines for those with natural immunity, while ignoring the much more powerful conclusion #1. Shameful!


  3. Wolfie

    I agree Elizabeth. His use of emergency powers is long over stepped. It is beyond time to live with this virus and move on.

  4. Mike

    It has been proven that the vaccines are not effective. They do not stop the virus. many people who have gotten the original shots and the boosters, still get sick. At best, they may help get sick to prevent a much worse case. This is strictly a power thing for Enslee because that is all he has. He is one of the worst governors and has been a disgrace to our state.

  5. Margaret

    150 Plus Research Studies Affirm Naturally Acquired Immunity to Covid-19: Documented, Linked, and Quoted
    “We should not force COVID vaccines on anyone when the evidence shows that naturally acquired immunity is equal to or more robust and superior to existing vaccines. Instead, we should respect the right of the bodily integrity of individuals to decide for themselves…

    Moreover, existing immunity should be assessed before any vaccination, via an accurate, dependable, and reliable antibody test (or T cell immunity test) or be based on documentation of prior infection (a previous positive PCR or antigen test). Such would be evidence of immunity that is equal to that of vaccination and the immunity should be provided the same societal status as any vaccine-induced immunity.” 


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