WSDA sent a letter to the governor today urging him to modify Proclamation 21-14 to include an optional “vaccinate or test” policy.
Since the release of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Proclamation 21-14, which mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for all health care providers and health care workers, WSDA has been in active communication with the Governor’s Office, voicing concerns on behalf of members across the state about the staffing implications of this one-size-fits-all mandate. In addition to these conversations, WSDA sent a letter to the governor today urging him to modify Proclamation 21-14 to include an optional “vaccinate or test” policy.
Read the Letter
Despite our strong partnership with the state throughout the pandemic and our ongoing public support of COVID-19 vaccination, WSDA and other representatives of small health care facilities were not afforded the opportunity to provide feedback on Proclamation 21-14 prior to its release. Now, in our response to the governor, we emphasize the following:
- Including an optional “vaccinate or test” policy, similar to what is being done in Oregon and California, is a reasonable and sound modification. Not doing so will have unintended consequences for the delivery of dental care in our state.
- Many of our members are concerned about how this mandate will cause their team members to quit. Five or six staff members opting against vaccination is orders of magnitude more significant for a small health care practice than it is for a larger system.
- This issue is compounded by the extreme labor shortage for dental auxiliaries across our state and our nation. Replacing unvaccinated staff with vaccinated staff will be incredibly difficult if not impossible for many providers.
- A mandate that applies a one-size-fits-all approach without a regular testing option will only cause further, irreparable damage to the dental community.
- The mandate fails to recognize how COVID-19 transmission varies among different settings. U.S. dentists continue to have a lower infection rate than other health professionals, such as nurses and physicians.
Please read the entirety of WSDA’s letter to the governor here.
We know that as health care providers, our members continue to strongly support efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccination. As an organization, WSDA has championed and encouraged COVID-19 vaccination among dentists, dental teams, patients, and communities since the vaccine first became available. WSDA continues to strongly encourage COVID-19 vaccination today.
However, WSDA does not support a vaccine mandate that jeopardizes the sustainability of providing dental care in Washington state. We are imploring the governor to consider the diverse needs of different health care settings and modify Proclamation 21-14 accordingly.
We also know that members have many questions about implementation of the various requirements of Proclamation 21-14, as it currently stands, for private health care settings. WSDA is putting together an FAQ resource for members, but we are also waiting on additional information and answers from the Governor’s Office prior to its release. We will continue to update members as more information becomes available.
Dr. Dennis Bradshaw