Gov. Inslee announces end to COVID-19 vaccination requirement for state employees

Gov. Jay Inslee announced he will rescind requirements related to COVID-19 vaccination for state employees under Directive 22-13.1 on Thursday, May 11, 2023.

This rescission directive would end the condition of employment related to COVID-19 vaccinations for executive cabinet and small cabinet agencies.

The timing aligns with the end of the federal public health emergency and lifting of vaccination requirements for federal employees and contractors on May 11. 

Last week, the World Health Organization announced an end to the global health emergency for COVID-19.

“For more than three years, we have all faced incredible challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted every aspect of our lives,” Inslee said. “Throughout this public health crisis, our state employee family demonstrated inspiring resilience and dedication, and I thank our employees for their exemplary service under unprecedented circumstances. We have risen to the occasion during a defining moment in our history, and the measures we took helped us to achieve one of the lowest death rates in the nation.”

The state’s Office of Financial Management will provide notice to state labor partners to negotiate changes to collective bargaining agreements and engage in rulemaking to amend the appropriate civil service rules containing COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

Although the global and federal health emergencies are ending, Gov. Inslee says that work remains to limit the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the risks of serious illness and death. 

Public health officials encourage people to stay home when sick, wear a fitted face mask if exposed to the virus, and stay up-to-date on vaccination shots.

Inslee will be signing a budget soon that includes provisions to incentivize up-to-date vaccination. 

Beginning July 25, 2023, eligible state employees who choose to provide proof of their up-to-date vaccination status can qualify for a $1,000 incentive payment.

Washington state’s COVID-19 emergency order ended on October 31, 2022.