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EvergreenHealth will require COVID-19, flu vaccines for all employees by this fall

EvergreenHealth is the latest hospital system to announce a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for employees following Gov. Jay Inslee's mandate earlier this week.

Editor's note: The above video previously aired on KING 5 when Gov. Jay Inslee announced the state's vaccination requirement for state and health care workers.

EvergreenHealth in Kirkland announced Thursday it will require all employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus and the seasonal flu by this fall citing rising COVID-19 cases in Washington state. 

In a news release Thursday, the hospital system said all staff, regardless of whether they work directly with patients or not, will be required to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations by Oct. 18, and seasonal flu vaccination by Nov. 22.

“With COVID-19 cases climbing across Washington state and the nation, we must continue to fight the pandemic with the safe and highly effective tools available to us – including the vaccine,” said Jeff Tomlin, CEO of EvergreenHealth, in a statement. “The evidence is clear that vaccinations are very effective in decreasing the morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19 and its current variants. Vaccinating our staff is part of our commitment to providing safe, high-quality care to our patients and their families.”   

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Employees can claim medical or religious exemptions to receiving the vaccines, but if they do, they must file a formal declination accompanied by confirmation in writing from their physician or religious leader, according to a spokesperson for the hospital. 

EvergreenHealth already requires employees be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, as well as other viruses, and the seasonal flu. However, the health system's vaccination policies will soon be updated to remove a personal preference exemption for the flu vaccine and include the COVID-19 vaccine, hospital officials said Thursday. 

The health system is the latest to announce a COVID-19 vaccination requirement following Gov. Jay Inslee's announcement earlier this week mandating state employees and those in health care be vaccinated against the virus

Health care facilities that have already announced plans to implement a vaccine requirement include the MultiCare Health System and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Hayley Bickle, who works as a contracted nurse with the MultiCare Health System in Pierce County, expressed her opposition to Inslee's vaccine mandate for health care workers in an interview with KING 5, Wednesday. 

"That’s not for anybody to make that decision except for me," said Bickle. 

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