No Clear Picture Yet Of How Many Will Lose Jobs Because Of WA Vaccine Mandate

Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate is now in effect. But it may be several days before we know how many people in state government, health care and education lost their jobs because they didn’t get vaccinated.

Governor Inslee’s mandate was pretty straight forward. Get vaccinated by October 18th or get fired. People could apply for religious or medical exemptions, but even if they got one there was no guarantee of being accommodated in the workplace.

That’s what happened to State Patrol Sergeant Richard Thompson who ended a nearly 17-year career on Saturday evening. He signed off on the police radio by saying, “Due to my personal choice to take a moral stand for medical freedom and personal choice, I will be signing out of service for the last time today.”

Thompson said in his goodbye that his southwest Washington patrol district was going to lose 24 troopers to the mandate – or about 30 percent of the workforce. The state patrol couldn’t immediately confirm that, but Thompson admonished the troopers he was leaving behind to watch out for each other.  “Be safe and make sure you all go home at the end of each day,” he said.

The state expects to release new numbers this week on how many state workers got vaccinated and how many got exemptions and were accommodated so they can keep working. At a news conference last week, Inslee defended his mandate while also acknowledging that not everyone wants to get the shot. He said, “But I will say there’s one thing I know, when you’ve got your opponent down on the canvas, don’t let them back up. And we’re not going to let this COVID come back up.”

A last-ditch attempt Monday to block the vaccine mandate in court failed. Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy found that the plaintiffs had not met their burden to show that the mandate is – in her words – “unjust in all its applications.”

“The court therefore finds that plaintiffs have failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits. The motion for injunction is denied,” Murphy said.

For State Patrol Sergeant Richard Thompson, a familiar voice responded to his final sign off – his wife Celina who’s a dispatcher for the state patrol and also losing her job. “I’m honored to have to been your dispatcher, but mostly proud to be your wife. Our future is bright. Thank you so much for your service 110.”

Thompson replied, “And thank you for yours and being by my side.”

While it may take some time to know the true impact to state services, more than 90 percent of state workers have complied with the mandate and Inslee says it’s saving lives.