Trust providers? Gov. Inslee didn’t — and his vaccine mandate also resulted in 3,000 hospital workers losing jobs


State officials just announced their plan for dealing with COVID-19 in the future. They gave their campaign released in March the jazzy marketing title “ForWArd.” (See what they did there?)  

The campaign materials say health care workers “continue to be as essential as ever,” not only to care for patients but to “educate and communicate” with the general public. And while Gov. Jay Inslee and the Department of Health (DOH) say they recognize health care providers as “trusted sources of medical information,” providers weren’t trusted to make medical decisions even for themselves. 

As a result of Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, some Washingtonians lost their primary caregivers – their most trusted medical source. And roughly 3,000 hospital workers also lost jobs over the state vaccine mandate. The head of the Washington State Hospital Association said some hospitals experienced added strain because of the mandate.  

One health care provider told me she wanted to wait for better science about the vaccine before taking it or advising her patients to take a new medicine. She was fired. (Other providers, I should note, told me they had no hesitation recommending vaccination or being vaccinated.) 

The state even said it would pay providers for vaccine counseling that their patients did not seek. “Gov. Inslee makes emergency proclamation reimbursing providers for proactive COVID-19 vaccine counseling visits,” a Washington state Health Care Authority bulletin said. It pointed the state’s trusted medical sources to talking points and a billing outline. A DOH press release listed steps for providers taking advantage of what it called the Power of Providers (POP) initiative: “​​Ask patients at every visit if they are vaccinated or check their immunization records. If the patient is not vaccinated, provide information and education on the COVID-19 vaccine, recommend it and offer it.” 

“ForWArd” talks about the POP effort this way: “Through POP, we asked providers to reach out to patients, educate them, provide them with a vaccine or referral and empower patients to share vaccination status with their respective communities. Over 65,000 Washington healthcare providers committed to do so and that number continues to grow.”

Inslee’s strict vaccine mandate — made under the emergency powers he has had for 759 days — also took out more than 1,800 Washington state employees. It stands out like a sore thumb in our nation, and states without such a mandate have lower COVID-19 death rates. Read more about that here

COVID-19 shots appear to lower hospitalization and death. They have been a useful tool. State numbers show most Washingtonians have been vaccinated — many voluntarily. But both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can contract and spread the disease, making a vaccine mandate for employment clearly misguided and discriminatory. It is hurting state resources and wrecking careers. 

Ending the vaccine mandate in Washington state should be part of the “ForWArd” campaign. The policy is backward.