Opinion: Vaccine mandate needlessly impacts workers, state services

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center explains why the governor’s monopoly on COVID-19 policy is hurting the state

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center explains why the governor’s monopoly on COVID-19 policy is hurting the state

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

Earlier this month when the Centers for Disease Control determined it would stop making policies that differentiate between those who have COVID-19 shots and those who don’t, Gov. Jay Inslee was given the perfect get-out-of-jail-free card. 

Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde

Dropping his misguided vaccine mandate on state employees — one he recently made even more strict and not in line with current COVID-19 conditions — would have allowed him to continue saying he was following CDC guidance and “science.” He did not take the gift. And reports about canceled ferry sailings because of staffing shortages on the boats are a reminder of how botched his vaccine mandate has been. It is adversely impacting state service levels, destroying people’s livelihoods and careers in the process. 

The Center Square reported last week, “In October 2021, more than 400 Washington State Department of Transportation employees were fired for not complying with Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The largest loss was within WSF, which lost 132 employees – 121 of those as separations and 11 as retirements.” Read more vaccination-requirement-related job loss data here

Today a story about the Seattle Fire Department in The Seattle Times reported, “The department has had to plug gaps resulting from the dozens of firefighters who left the department or took leave in the fourth quarter of 2021 because they did not comply with the city’s vaccine requirement.” This hasn’t helped the need for overtime work in the department. “SFD paid out $37.7 million in overtime last year, a 49% increase over 2019 and the most in department history, as it grappled with an uptick in emergencies, shouldered a broader workload and lost firefighters,” the story says. 

National Public Radio interviewed a top CDC official who estimates 95 percent of people have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, a reason the agency recently revised its guidance. “The update isn’t necessarily a huge overhaul of the existing guidance, but it does represent an increasing focus on individuals making their own decisions about their level of risk and how they want to mitigate that risk, said Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials,” the NPR story reads. Plescia also told the news outlet, “I don’t really think there are many state or local jurisdictions that are feeling they’re going to need to start making mandates.”

I wish. Washington never took all its mandates away. And workers and taxpayers are paying dearly.

While vaccines seem to help people with COVID-19 avoid serious illness and death from the virus, vaccine mandates on workers are bringing no demonstrable public health benefit. Read more about our look at comparative state data here. And numbers from King County put Inslee’s energy for boosters being part of his vaccine mandate — a summer add-on that appears to be reversing in labor negotiations, not because of numbers like these — into perspective. 

The county reports that boosted individuals are more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than those who are just fully vaccinated — fully vaccinated meaning people who have had the initial vaccination series. (Know that boosted people and those who are fully vaccinated are testing positive less often than those who are unvaccinated.) As for hospitalization and death outcomes by vaccination status, boosted and fully vaccinated people are faring similarly and better than the unvaccinated. See more here. I commend the county government for offering clear information that can help people make informed health decisions. 

Inslee should be interested in helping people make patient-centered decisions about COVID-19, not in workers getting shots or losing work. The governor’s monopoly on COVID-19 policy is hurting the state.

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

Also read:


  1. Tiffany

    Inslee’s vaccine mandate is also preventing “unvaccinated” parents from volunteering in their children’s school. I have natural immunity from COVID and it doesn’t count. This is the second year I can’t participate in my child’s education. This needs to end immediately.

    1. Sylvia

      The only way to end this manipulation is if/when people come together in the spirit of ‘Unity in Diversity’, and take back what rightfully belongs to the people >>>> our RIGHTS.
      The economy is ruined; inflation, living cost, livelihood, education, social interaction, supply chains, and so many other aspects have been negatively impacted as a result of the deliberately created PLANdemic. The strategy of ‘Divide and Conquer’ has been used as an evil strategy to generate fear, chaos and even more divisiveness in an America that is already deeply fragmented.
      Hostilities will only fracture the fabric of our society even more. That is exactly what the manipulators want.
      Let’s unite and tackle what is essentially our common cause.

      1. Wolfie

        And after last nights speech demonizing conservatives and blaming us for what THEY- the elite in power in DC on the left- have actually done, its going to be even harder. The hypocritical comments and call for violence comes from those who want to hang onto their control, not conservatives who are wanting their country back.

        1. Sylvia

          That speech rendered many speechless. To actually state that Republicans are a threat to US democracy only confirms the depth of desperation within the ruling party. Blame shifting at its best.
          Then there was the case of Hunter Biden’s laptop. Not pretty!
          I have never been stuck with any political party, and my choice is based on merit instead of blind loyalty. Am currently 100% disillusioned with the Dems.
          When Biden promised to “Unite America” durng his campaign, it was a glimmer of hope in what has been a deeply divided nation for decades, if not centuries.
          The reality has proven to be the exact opposite. Statements like “the pandemic of the unvaccinated” actually encourage even deeper divisiveness, pitting the jabbed against the unjabbed, and casting blame on those unjabbed. Biden also named “the Dirty Dozen” who he accused of “murdering millions”. Is that his way of Uniting America?
          The only unbiased actions so far have come from Republican Senators during various hearings, in which they included testimony from diverse experts. Yes, even those scientists who were ‘deplatformed’ by the Biden administration, FDA, CDC, NIH, etc.
          Indeed, Wolfie, things are quite bleak. Let’s hope the mid-terms bring change.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *