New survey reveals vaccination rates of Washington’s health care system

The Washington Hospital Association released the findings of a survey that detailed the vaccination rates among hospitals and health care systems in Washington.

The survey was conducted following the Oct. 4 deadline to start the vaccination process ahead of the Oct. 18 deadline to be fully vaccinated.

With 94% of the state’s hospitals responding, the results showed 88% of the staff was fully vaccinated.

The Washington Hospital Association reported the remaining 12% is a mix of staff who are partially vaccinated, have an approved exemption and accommodation, have applied or plan to apply for an exemption that has yet to be reviewed, have not yet provided verification or are choosing not to be vaccinated.

The association estimated that 2 to 5% of hospital staff could leave the workforce because of the vaccination mandate.

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While the percentage of health care workers who have not verified their vaccination status is small, hospitals report that with high COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations, any reduction in workforce will cause issues with patient care.

“It is clear that staffing remains constrained across the health care system and the loss of staff will have an impact on patients, including continued delays for less urgent procedures and longer waits for outpatient appointments,” said Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association.

The hospital association also raised the concern of the impact of the vaccine requirement on services essential to the health care system, such as long-term care providers and emergency medical services to transport patients to and between health care facilities.

New vaccination numbers for Washington’s hospitals will be available in early November.