Health care organizations join in support of King County vaccine verification to help reduce hospitalizations and deaths

Leaders from 14 health care organizations issued a statement in support of requiring proof of full COVID-19 vaccination status or a negative test to enter many outdoor and indoor entertainment and recreational establishments and events. The recently-announced policy will go into effect October 25.

With local hospitals and health care providers straining under high levels of preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations and increased deaths driven by the Delta variant, 14 health care organization leaders joined in support of King County’s new policy, going into effect October 25, requiring vaccination proof or a negative test for many outdoor and indoor events and establishments.

“As leaders in the provision of healthcare in King County, we strongly support requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccine or negative test for large sporting and entertainment events and establishments such as restaurants, bars and gyms,” begins the joint statement.

An analysis by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) conducted for King County found that the vaccine verification policy at restaurants, bars, and gyms/fitness centers alone could have a significant positive impact, preventing substantial numbers of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

“Our health care partners have been heroic throughout the pandemic in supporting wave after wave of gravely ill patients, but the Delta surge has pushed them to their limits,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Their support for our health order shows the importance of vaccine verification in protecting the health care system and workers by reducing the spread of the virus in public settings.”

Signatories include leaders from the following organizations: Evergreen Healthcare, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Kaiser Permanente, King County Medical Society, Overlake Medical Center, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle Children’s Hospital, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, Swedish Health Services, UFCW 21, UW Medicine, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Washington State Nurses Association.

“Since the pandemic touched down in our region, our health care partners have consistently worked under unprecedented and strenuous situations, with almost no respite. In recent weeks, our hospital systems and critical care nurses are once again being tested by the surge in COVID-19 cases, particularly among the unvaccinated. We know that vaccine verification is the right thing to do not just for the health and vitality of our communities and economy, but to preserve and protect our hospital capacity,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan.

“Vaccine verification requirements will reduce the spread of COVID-19 in high-risk public settings, reduce the stress on our healthcare system and return patient loads to more manageable levels,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “It will also help make businesses and other public venues safer for customers, workers and our community.”

The health order will apply to:

  • Outdoor events with 500 people or more – such as professional and collegiate sports and entertainment events
  • Indoor entertainment and recreational events or establishments – such as professional and collegiate sports, entertainment, performing arts, museums, theatre, live music, gyms, and conferences/conventions.
  • Restaurants and bars (including indoor dining) – this does not apply to outdoor dining, take-out customers, and places that aren’t primarily used as a restaurant, such as grocery stores.

The order gives the option for a longer preparation period for smaller restaurants and bars with a seating capacity of 12 or less, with an implementation date of December 6. The entire order is not expected to be permanent. It will be reviewed no later than six months after the October 25th implementation date to assess its continued need based on future outbreak conditions.

Public Health, King County, and City of Seattle are working with partners to provide technical support and educational materials to businesses and organizations implementing the order. For more details on King County’s COVID-19 vaccine verification policy, visit

Anyone needing COVID-19 vaccine can visit to find a vaccine in their neighborhood. To date, more than three million vaccine doses have been administered in King County.

Originally published September 24, 2021