King County and City of Seattle announce update to employee vaccine mandate

As a condition of employment, King County and City of Seattle employees will no longer require proof of vaccination against COVID-19, according to a media release.

The announcement is effective Monday.

According to the media release, King County and the City of Seattle officials have used the latest recommendations from Public Health to inform their decisions, including the 2021 requirement that all county and city employees, contractors, and volunteers show proof of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Due to recent lower levels of community spread of the virus and hospitalizations having remained at lower levels, officials believe the overall risk was low enough to lift the mandate.

“Since the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, King County’s policy has been to follow the science, listen to the experts, and protect life and health. Establishing a vaccine mandate for employees and contractors was critical to keeping employees and the public safe, and keeping services flowing. Today our experts advise that immunity has reached a level that allows these requirements to be relaxed,” said Executive Dow Constantine. “With high vaccination rates and effective, updated boosters available, we are in a different place in the pandemic, and our policies and regulations will change to reflect the best information we have available today, as they have throughout the last three years.”

“The vaccine mandate was an effective and necessary tool for protecting the health and safety of City workers and the public we serve,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “The City’s actions then and now have always been informed by the science of the pandemic and recommendations of public health officials – an approach based on data and dedicated to saving lives. Rooted in our shared values of safety and health equity, we will continue to follow this approach as we respond to next steps in the pandemic and continue to advance efforts to ensure a thriving and equitable recovery for all Seattle residents and neighbors.”

According to the media release, more than 98% of King County’s nearly 15,000 employees provided proof of vaccination and nearly 4,000 employees were hired since.

Less than 2% of employees were fired for failure to provide proof of vaccination.

For the City of Seattle, more than 99% of the employees provided proof of vaccination and less than 1% were fired.