The firing of Washington State University’s head football coach, Nick Rolovich, for refusing to get a Covid vaccine was the most high-profile consequence of several statewide vaccine mandates for government workers that took effect on Monday.
In Washington, Monday was the final day for more than 800,000 workers, including those at state agencies, schools and health care facilities, to prove they had been fully vaccinated against coronavirus. The mandate, issued by Gov. Jay Inslee in August, is among the strictest in the country.
In Massachusetts, nearly 1,600 state executive-branch employees missed the Sunday vaccination deadline, the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Monday. These unvaccinated workers, who do not have the option to submit the regular testing instead of getting vaccinated, now face suspension and the loss of their jobs. Governor Baker does not expect to experience staffing shortages in Massachusetts, the statement said, but some politicians say requiring vaccines will strain an already stressed work force.
The governor’s executive order was unsuccessfully challenged in court by the unions representing state police troopers and state prison guards.
New Jersey’s vaccine mandate for school and state workers also took effect this week and requires employees to provide proof of vaccination or complete a Covid-19 test at least once a week. The state’s next deadline is Nov. 1, when workers at child care facilities will be required to be fully vaccinated or have regular Covid-19 tests administered.
At a news conference on Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy said he didn’t immediately know what percentage of state employees had been vaccinated, but added, “It’s a very high percentage.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago said on Monday that some police officers in the city were no longer receiving pay because they had not complied with requirements to get vaccinated. “The disciplinary process will proceed from there,” she said. “My understanding is it’s a very small number.”
Preliminary data indicates that mandates are working to persuade vaccine holdouts. In New York, for instance, teachers and health care workers rushed to get vaccinated ahead of that state’s mandate, and private companies that issued vaccination requirements have seen widespread compliance.