Governor Jay Inslee is now requiring all state workers and contractors, as well as all private healthcare workers to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Inslee announced his requirement as an executive order at a Monday press conference.

"The reason we are in this pickle today is because about 30 percent of our eligible citizens, so far have chosen not to get this life saving vaccine," said Inslee.

The order will affect about 60,000 state employees and 400,000 health care workers who will be required to be fully vaccinated by October 18.

Washington Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah says the order to affect about half a million people total, including people who contract with the state.

Inslee said the order means the affected people who are not already vaccinated will have to receive a final virus shot by October 4.

His order comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are spiking in the state with roughly 85 percent of them linked to the more recent Delta variant that has been found to be far more contagious than previous strains of the virus.

New cases are now averaging 1,700 per week.

Just over 70 percent of people in Washington eligible to be vaccinated, have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The state reports 95 percent of current hospitalizations are among people who have not been vaccinated

Inslee says his vaccination requirement offers exemptions for medical and religious reasons, but not for personal or philosophical objections.

"There is no reason on this green earth why people who are vaccinated should lose the right to go to a restaurant, or go to school, or go to work because some folks won't get vaccinated in our state," Inslee said during his press conference. "That’s just not right. It’s not fair. It's not acceptable."

There has been quick criticism of Inslee’s actions from Republicans in the state legislature.

Senator Mike Padden, the lead Republican on the Law and Justice Committee called his executive order is a violation of the worker’s civil liberties.

“What’s next,” said Padden. “Are they going to tie someone down to a gurney and then force them to have a shot?"  

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