Educators speak on Gov. Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate

SPOKANE, Wash. — Teachers are in the education industry because they want to be there for kids. That’s why Gov. Jay Inslee believes educators will get vaccinated, especially now that he’s requiring it. It’s either that or staff can request medical or religious exemptions, or get laid off.

Elisabeth Kraus, an adjunct professor with Whitworth, believes a majority of educators will get vaccinated.

However, she says she understands why people are hesitant and afraid of the risks. She told 4 News Now her ex-husband had gone through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program ten years ago, saying he was injured by a vaccine.

“We were awarded money because that was proven to be a vaccine injury. Having lived through that, this doesn’t come without concern or without risk. But, I also recognize that this vaccine has been shown to be remarkably safe, remarkably effective, and remarkably helpful in slowing the spread of a very contagious virus,” Kraus said.

She says vaccine mandates are nothing new, which the state does require certain vaccinations for schools.

“I don’t think that this is anything extraordinary. It’s just extra political,” she said.

Not every educator agrees on the vaccine mandate. Some teachers told 4 News Now they believe it should be their own choice.

READ: Protesters in Spokane gather to speak out against Gov. Inslee’s vaccine requirements

READ: Parents statewide participate in rally against the mask mandate in schools

Parents and other people have been protesting, saying a vaccine should not be required.

“I think it’s an overreach from the state and the governor that has mandated that we put masks on children. I think it’s an overreach,” said Kathy Campbell, who had children in Mead.

Some also want to wait until they’re fully approved by the FDA, which the Pfizer vaccine could get on Monday.

Kraus says she believes medical freedom is important, too, but thinks there’s a limit.

“Our personal freedoms end at the place where they endanger others. We all have the right to drink as much alcohol as we want, right? But, that right ends when we get behind a car, because that’s the place where it begins to endanger other people,” she said.

Michelle Davis, a teacher with Spokane Public Schools, says she’s excited, believing more people will be vaccinated in her school because of the mandate.

“At the elementary level, they can’t get vaccinated except for maybe some sixth graders, and so I think it’s our job as the adults to protect our kids and that’s one way we can do it along with wearing masks,” Davis said.

Educators must be vaccinated by Oct. 18 or get a medical or religious exemption by then, otherwise, they’d lose their jobs.

School districts tell 4 News Now they’re working through the guidelines of the vaccine mandate with their staff and want to support staff their staff in their decisions and situations.

The Mead Education Association president previously told 4 News Now that a mandate could cause logistical problems with staffing down the road.

Davis told 4 News Now she hopes they’re able to keep employees while also keeping everybody safe.

READ: Mead School District asks Gov. Inslee for roadmap to ‘mask-optional’ learning

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