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Washington state governor Jay Inslee in 2019. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced Monday that the state is instituting a vaccine mandate for most state employees and healthcare workers.

Why it matters: Inslee cited the state's surging COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations as impetus for the new policy.

The big picture: Workers affected by the mandate, including long-term care workers and state contractors, will have until Oct. 18 to get inoculated as a condition of employment.

  • Unlike other states that have mandated vaccines for state and health care workers — such as New York and California — Washington will not have a test-out option that allows employees who do not wish to get vaccinated to submit to regular testing.
  • "Past opt-out testing policies in congregate facilities for unvaccinated staff have not been efficient at preventing outbreaks that impact employees, clients and families, resulting in the loss of life of dedicated staff," per the press release.
  • Exemptions to the mandate will be granted for "legitimate medical reasons or sincerely held religious reasons" but not for "personal or philosophical objections," reads the press release.

What he's saying: “We have a duty to protect them from the virus, they have the right to be protected, and the communities they serve and live in deserve protection as well," said Inslee of the workers affected by the mandate, per the press release.

  • “No patient should have to worry about getting COVID-19 from their health care provider, period,” Jeff Duchin, King County Public Health officer, said in the press release.

Go deeper

Nov 16, 2021 - Podcasts

Pfizer agrees to licensing deal for COVID-19 pill

Pfizer announced on Tuesday it will allow low and middle-income countries to make and distribute the company’s COVID-19 pill inexpensively. The move is an attempt to increase the global supply in 95 poorer nations.

While the deal helps treat patients, the company has not made the same decision when it comes to its COVID-19 vaccine.

Axios Re:Cap host Felix Salmon is joined by Axios health care business reporter Bob Herman to discuss Pfizer’s decisions and the global ramifications.

Nov 17, 2021 - World

Auckland lockdown to end

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: Mark Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced pandemic travel restrictions on the Auckland region imposed in August will lift next month, but travelers must provide proof of vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of departure.

Why it matters: Those who fail to comply with the requirement face an NZ $1,000 fine (U.S. $700) and police will be responsible for enforcement when it takes effect on Dec. 15, Ardern said at a briefing Wednesday afternoon New Zealand time.

D.C. to end mask mandate Monday

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced D.C. will lift its current mask mandate next Monday, citing the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing most hospitalizations and deaths.

Details: Masks will still be required in schools and public transportation, and private businesses are free to implement their own mandates.