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Friday, September 24, 2021

King County Working On Vaccine Verification Requirements For Non-essential Indoor Business Activities

Dr. Jeff Duchin

In the face of a Delta-driven surge, high levels of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and increasing deaths, King County Executive Dow Constantine recently announced that Public Health – Seattle & King County is working to develop a vaccine verification policy for some non-essential indoor business activities and other venues. Several jurisdictions have already adopted some form of vaccine verification policy, including New York City, San Francisco and British Columbia in Canada, and by Clallam and Jefferson counties in Washington State.

Full details will be announced after County engagement with community organizations, labor unions, businesses, and cities to gather feedback. The County is considering non-essential indoor and outdoor spaces where people gather in close proximity for a prolonged period of time. After finalizing the vaccination verification policy, unvaccinated residents would have at least five weeks to complete their vaccination series before the requirements of the proposed policy go into effect, likely in October.

With unvaccinated patients filling up hospitals and readily accessible, safe, and effective vaccines, the policy will ensure businesses can protect workers and customers alike. More than 84% of eligible King County residents have begun their vaccinations against COVID-19, including more than 70% of every eligible age group and all racial groups tracked by Public Health.

“We’re at a critical point in the pandemic. In a County where more than 4 out of 5 eligible residents have taken advantage of the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID, vaccine verification is the best way for businesses and gatherings to remain open, vibrant, and at full capacity,” said Constantine. “My staff and Public Health officials are continuing to gather feedback and listen to community and business groups in a county-wide effort to keep our recovery going, keep people safe, and end this pandemic.”

“We are experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations caused by the highly infectious Delta variant that is causing serious stress on our regional healthcare system,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County’s Health Officer. “COVID-19 vaccines are safe, highly effective, and readily available, and verifying vaccination in certain non-essential, high-risk settings can make those places safer for the public, workers, and our community, including children who are not currently eligible for vaccination.”

King County and Public Health are building the vaccine verification policy in consultation with PHSKC’s Pandemic and Racism Community Advisory Group, cities, small businesses, chambers of commerce, labor unions, trade associations, sports teams, venues, community groups, and faith-based leaders throughout the county to ensure the policy is workable, fair, and equitable for businesses and residents. King County residents can provide feedback by e-mail at coronavirus@kingcounty.gov. Anyone needing a vaccine can visit KingCounty.gov/vaccine to find a vaccine in their neighborhood.

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