Incorrect information was recently printed in a Times article about COVID-19 vaccination requirements for hospital staff [“WA’s COVID state of emergency will lift on Oct. 31, Inslee says,” Sept. 8, Local News]. Media briefings from state government leaders erroneously communicated that because the state’s vaccine mandate was ending, hospitals could determine their own vaccination policies. This is not accurate. Federal regulations continue to require hospital staff be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have a religious or medical exemption.
This error reflects the relentless challenge of differing state and federal government COVID requirements. Hospital caregivers have weathered many challenges with the COVID pandemic, including navigating misaligned and conflicting government regulations. With the end of Washington’s state of emergency, now is the time to ease the burden.
We implore the state to follow a single authoritative source of government guidance going forward. Recently, we have encountered conflicting or unclear guidance in many areas ranging from COVID screening at hospital entrances to masking requirements. Where the federal government infectious disease experts have set the guidance, Washington state should defer and make it easier for our caregivers to do their jobs.
Taya Briley, RN, MN, JD, executive vice president, Washington State Hospital Association