Vaccine mandate is already a struggle for local gymnastics academy

At Emerald City Gymnastics Academy in Redmond, owner Sandy Flores is already feeling the impact of the King County vaccine mandate. It goes into effect Oct. 25.

She says she’s getting pushback from parents frustrated that she plans to meet the mandate. Flores feels she should not have to be the vaccine police.

“It’s not that we don’t believe the vaccine should happen, we believe it should be a mandate that is fair and equitable to us all. We feel like small businesses are once again being picked on.”

Flores is fully vaccinated, and she even got her booster. Now she has to makes sure all athletes over 12 are vaccinated too—and their parents. She thinks it is unfair she has to enforce a vaccine mandate when the same children go to school unvaccinated.

“Schools are not mandating the vaccine, but those same kids who come here are mandated to have it,” said Flores.

The gym coaches about 2,000 children and teens. Most of them are in their recreational program, but more than 200 are training for the Junior Olympics.

“I have over 210 Junior Olympic athletes that compete here for Emerald City Gymnastics, and a few of them are looking for programs outside of King County because they are not vaccinated. That is their parents’ choice.”

Flores is fielding calls, emails and text messages from frustrated parents and figuring out how to enforce the mandate. She says she’s lost $1.5 million during the pandemic and doesn’t have the money to hire a full-time employee to stand at the door to check vaccine cards.

“I’m tired, I’m tired of fighting for my business,” said Flores. “It is putting us as the vaccine police and putting us in the forefront of people’s political views, and we don’t think we should be the targets.”

And it’s not just following state and county mandates. Flores also has to follow the federal Safe Sport Authorization Act.

She says you can’t limit parents from watching their children.