ISSAQUAH, Wash. – Eastside Fire & Rescue (EF&R) achieved a 93% vaccination rate among their response operations personnel this week.
The last day for employees to provide proof of vaccination to EF&R administration to comply with the governor's vaccine mandate was Monday, Oct. 18. The mandate requires health care workers, including emergency service providers, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to a news release from the fire district, EF&R experienced an 18% increase in fully vaccinated response operations personnel due to the vaccine mandate.
"Our staff worked to educate, counsel, and make accommodations for our nonvaccinated employees," said EF&R Fire Chief Jeff Clark. "This effort enabled us to plan for workforce changes and make staffing adjustments to ensure response times remain unaffected."
EF&R provided vaccination opportunities to all employees and hosted a vaccination clinic for the greater community at Lake Sammamish State Park.
All nonvaccinated response operations personnel were provided an opportunity to apply for an exemption and participate in an accommodation process, the release said. EF&R was able to work with individual employees and provide a variety of accommodations to those who qualified.
"We are saddened by the loss of some of our firefighters," said EF&R Assistant Chief Ben Lane. "We continue to prioritize safety for our employees and community through COVID-19 vaccination."
Through flexible hiring practices, EF&R will expand their current recruitment process to help cover the anticipated loss of nonvaccinated employees.
According to the release, EF&R’s values align with the governor's proclamation. The fire district continues to encourage those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 to consider doing so immediately.
EF&R provides fire and emergency medical services to Issaquah, North Bend, Sammamish, Carnation, Preston, May Valley, Wilderness Rim, Tiger Mountain, and Woodinville. The district averages 14,000 calls per year and employs 188 sworn personnel.