Opinion: Washington state’s ongoing vaccine mandate is punitive, outdated

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center explains why Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate, which is still in place, is now very much outdated

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center explains why Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate, which is still in place, is now very much outdated

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

Many have forgotten that Gov. Jay Inslee’s tough vaccine mandate remains in place. Thousands of people in our state were fired or lost work because they chose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine that fails to prevent spread of the disease. The mandate also ignores changing case numbers and natural immunity. 

In addition to its human impact, the vaccine mandate is outdated. Lower hospitalization rates and the widespread availability of vaccines that still seem able to combat serious illness and death — as well as access to other medical therapies — were used to justify the end of the state mask mandate in March. Those same factors indicate that mandating a COVID-19 shot for employment provides little public health benefit. 

Oregon ended a similar vaccine mandate April 1 and is among five states beating us when it comes to the lowest cumulative case rates per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our death rate is slightly better than Oregon’s. June 9 data shows Washington at 171 and Oregon with 182. (Our state also had a better death rate than Oregon when both states had vaccine and mask mandates in place.)

Given what we know now about the virus and how it spreads, a vaccinate-or-lose-your-job policy comes across as cruel and punitive. Mandates failed to stop the spread of COVID-19, and they failed to keep vaccinated people from getting sick. Why? Because the virus does not recognize political mandates. 

The inability to recognize how harmful the vaccine mandate has been to government services and people’s lives — while not showing a demonstrable benefit to the public — goes along with the government’s shunning of any information that could counter its official messaging on vaccines. We’re stuck with half-informed discussions about life-and-death issues, instead of learning all we can.  

While encouraging boosters, for example, why isn’t the state talking about data that show people who have been boosted often fare worse than those who are vaccinated but not boosted?  

King County numbers  continue to show that people who have been boosted are more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated. And among age groups younger than 29, people with vaccine boosts are more likely to test positive than even those who are not fully vaccinated.  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data have also shown higher infection rates among boosted Americans. Boosted Americans are catching COVID-19 at nearly double  the rate of people who have not been boosted. Infection among the unvaccinated, remains the highest group, the data show.   

Knowledge is power, and we shouldn’t be discouraging people from getting more information so they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families.  

The vaccine mandate in our state is stifling open discussion and honest analysis, hurting relationships between family members and coworkers. The harsh policy creates outcasts and social stigma, in addition to wrecking careers. 

We contract and spread COVID-19 because we gather, not because we are vaccinated or unvaccinated. Our COVID-19 policies should reflect that.  Instead, Inslee continues to be proud of his punitive mandate, claiming the requirement that certain employees be vaccinated is responsible for fewer deaths in Washington state. That’s despite the fact that the vast majority of people dying from or with COVID-19 are people outside of working ages. It also ignores comparative state data.

Voluntary access to vaccines, healthy personal practices and a caring concern for one another is the best way to fight COVD-19, not government-enforced mandates, threats and job loss. 

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.

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7 months ago

Excellent, sensible article.

“because viruses don’t care about political mandates”

7 months ago

He is power hungry and won’t let go of his emergency powers because he is relishing the moment he can try to force masks back on people ‘ for the greater good’ of course. I honestly hope pray people are starting to see through all this but judging by the number of people wearing masks outside, I doubt it.

7 months ago

Thank you for your continued spotlight on the WA vaccine mandate! The mandate is punitive, discriminatory, and not based on any science. In fact, DOH has suppressed natural immunity data (unvaccinated plus prior covid) to hide its efficacy. The Clark County Council (Board of Health) knows this, and yet they ignore it. The Colombian also know and ignores. Thank you to the Washington Policy Group for continuing to address this.

7 months ago

What is seen by some as yet another annoying, punitive edict could well be part of an established program of a global reset. First it was inducing chaos and fear through the plandemic. Then came the mandates, many of which blithely made sheer mockery of our constitutional rights. Adverse effects of the mandated “safe and effective” vaccines were callously dismissed as ‘rare’ or ‘statistically insignificant’.
By now it is essential to maintain, and ramp up, the ‘conditioning’ process to ensure that people accept compliance and unquestioning obedience as a new way of life for the masses. Freedom of choice and the right to say “NO” seem part of a distant past, soon to disappear altogether. Democracy continues to be eroded. Is this really what we want? Do we really deserve to have a few autocrats and elitists take away our basic rights? Do we meekly hand over our decision-making power to control freaks?

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