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King County workers get more time for COVID-19 vaccine

Virus Outbreak Washington
Ted S. Warren
The Associated Press file
Kristin May, an EMT with the Seattle Fire Department, gives the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at a City of Seattle community COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinic in Seattle's Rainier Beach neighborhood on March 1.

Washington state’s most populous county has reached a deal with unions representing most of its employees that extends the deadline to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to Dec. 2.

The Seattle Times reports the agreement — which covers about 10,000 workers — was announced Wednesday by King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The county, like the state and city of Seattle, had previously announced a deadline of Oct. 18 for employees be fully vaccinated, with those who don’t comply facing termination.

Constantine’s office says 87% of county workers have received at least one vaccine dose and 80% have been fully vaccinated.

The new agreement, similar to one reached by the state with its largest union, gives some slack for those workers who have been hesitant.

They won’t be fired from county employment after Oct. 18 “provided they have begun the process for being fully vaccinated and can complete that process by Dec. 2,” Constantine’s office said in a news release.

Employees also can make requests for accommodation for religious or medical reasons.

The agreement announced Wednesday also gives county employees paid time off if they are unable to work because of vaccine side effects, and they’ll also receive paid leave if they contract COVID-19.