Hawkins pleased about Inslee’s decision on school employee vaccine access

Gov. Jay Inslee’s move yesterday to make all of the state’s public-school employees eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of their age, is good news, says Sen. Brad Hawkins, ranking Republican on the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.

The governor’s action came Monday, one week after Hawkins and the state Legislature’s other education committee leaders urged Inslee and the state Department of Health to revise recent guidance so that all school employees wishing to get a vaccination would be eligible under Phase 1B2 of the state’s guidelines.

“I’m thankful the governor agreed with the importance of expanding access to vaccinations for school employees,” said Hawkins. “His prior guidelines put those age 50 and older on track for being vaccinated as early as February, but a huge percentage of younger employees would have been waiting until April for their first vaccine dose, meaning the second dose wouldn’t happen until the school year is nearly finished.”

Hawkins added, “The governor’s original schedule was not acceptable, and I’m thankful he recognized that and changed his plan. The people on the front lines helping to fulfill the state’s paramount duty regarding education deserve to be protected, as many will be transitioning back to in-building instruction.

“I’m pleased that the proposed change was accepted and hope that the governor and DOH will consider my call to allow local health officials across the state to partner with school districts to designate February 1 as a statewide ‘School Employee Vaccination Day.’ My district could hold our vaccination day for school employees at Wenatchee’s Town Toyota Center, as it is one of the state-designated regional vaccination sites specified in the governor’s new plan.”

Go here to view the joint letter from Hawkins and his legislative education counterparts to Inslee and DOH.

Go here to view Hawkins’ news release on designating Feb. 1 as a statewide “School Employee Vaccination Day.”