LeadingAge Washington Urges Senior Care Organizations to Adopt a Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine Policy for All Employees

LeadingAge Washington Urges Senior Care Organizations to Adopt a Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine Policy for All Employees

The LeadingAge Washington Board of Directors approved, by a majority vote, the attached position statement urging COVID-19 mandatory vaccination of all long term care employees.   The board carefully considered all relevant concerns and including the environment within which you operate; namely workforce and the rapidly spreading variants of COVID-19. 

The association recognizes that it can not obligate any of its members to adopt a mandatory vaccine policy and the position statement acknowledges that each organization will make its own decision after carefully weighing all relevant factors. 

We understand, for example, that many of you believe that the higher unemployment benefits available to individuals causes or exacerbates the workforce shortage.  These higher unemployment benefits will cease, unless extended, on September 4th.   Implementation of any policy will likely take time to develop and your organizations may intentionally, or otherwise, delay the effective date until sometime following the termination of the enhanced benefits.  

We also understand that some of you believe that workers’ rights to refuse the vaccine are being eroded through mandatory vaccine policies.  The courts have weighed these factors and have found that there other legitimate and greater interests that can be paramount to these rights with no other effective, less intrusive or burdensome method (organizational and individual risk benefit) for achieving the same or similar outcome.  This has essentially been the basis for finding that employers have the right to mandate vaccine while still allowing workers to refuse the vaccine and work elsewhere. 

As a reminder, we eradicated polio, measles, mumps and other debilitating and deadly diseases through mandatory vaccination programs years ago.  And today, many organizations require employees to be vaccinated against influenza and other diseases.   

These and other issues are not easy to reconcile and each member will consider these and other important matters and decide accordingly.  That said, as the association representing your interests and in an effort to shield ourselves from criticism that we failed to take reasonable and available steps to mitigate against outbreaks and severe illness and death, we moved to encourage senior care organizations to mandate vaccination.   We are hopeful that this public statement will encourage those who were once hesitant to now opt for vaccination.  For some of you, you asked for this bold action to use in your own efforts to improve the rate of vaccination among staff in your communities.  And it demonstrates to state leaders and consumer advocates that we are working to promote and protect the safety of residents first and foremost and with a corollary benefit of protecting the health and the well-being of staff working in higher risk settings, such as, long term care.

We will continue to push the state to mandate vaccination across all health care workers so there is less opportunity to job hop to non-mandatory settings and because it is critical that we maintain an essential health care workforce.  Vaccination is the most effective strategy and it is scientifically proven to be safe for the vast majority of individuals.

July 30th Press Release



Deb Murphy – President & Chief Executive Officer


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August 5, 2021