Public Health Insider, Public Health – Seattle & King County
Starting today, October 25, 2021, customers age 12 and older are required to verify full vaccination or a negative test to participate in outdoor public events of 500 or more people and indoor entertainment and recreational establishments and events such as live music, performing arts, gyms, restaurants, and bars.
Preventable COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations remain at high levels in King County. This new Public Health—Seattle & King County (Public Health) policy, announced on September 16, 2021, creates an additional layer of protection from COVID-19.
Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin has issued a Health Order that requires people attending recreational activities in most public places to show proof that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. People who are unvaccinated or cannot prove vaccine status will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test administered by a testing provider within the last 72 hours on site at an event or establishment just prior to entry. Rapid tests used without the supervision of a testing provider will not be accepted.
The Order is intended to make public spaces safer for everyone. It aims to slow the virus’s spread in our community, and to preserve local hospital capacity. It broadens and reinforces the vaccine verification policies that many restaurants, professional sports teams, universities, and businesses already have in place.
We know that the vaccines dramatically reduce a person’s risk of needing to be hospitalized from COVID-19. Vaccines dramatically reduce the chances of dying. Vaccines are free and widely available to anyone age 12 and up.
Getting as many people vaccinated as possible is the surest way to control the pandemic. With proof of vaccination, along with other layers of protection such as masks, residents can feel safer enjoying concerts, sporting events, and social gatherings in public.
Where is vaccine verification required?
Starting October 25, people are required to show proof of vaccination in a number of public places, such as:
- Outdoor events with 500 or more people
- Indoor recreational activities of any size, such as performances, movie theaters, conferences, or gyms
- Indoors at bars and restaurants (outdoor dining, grocery stores, and take-out are exempt)
The Order also gives the option of a longer preparation period for smaller restaurants and bars with a seating capacity of 12 or fewer, with an implementation date of December 6. The entire order is not expected to be permanent. It will last for six months starting October 25. It will be reviewed for possible extension based on future outbreak conditions.
Public Health strongly encourages faith-based organizations to voluntarily adopt a vaccine verification policy, but it is not mandatory at this time. The policy also does not apply to children age 11 or younger, who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine.
People can verify that they’ve been vaccinated in a number of ways. They can show:
- A CDC vaccine card or photo of vaccine card
- Documented proof of vaccination from medical record or vaccine provider
- Proof of vaccination from another state or country
- Digital record or printed certificate from MyIRMobile.com or other apps (the MyIR QR code is not currently operational).
A person is considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer or their first dose of Johnson & Johnson. You do not have to show identification, such as a driver’s license, when showing proof of vaccination.
How we got here
King County continues to follow the science and changing circumstances of the pandemic. Rates of COVID-19 remain very high in King County and hospitals and healthcare providers have been stretched thin. These conditions make it necessary to take additional steps to protect the public and prevent more burdensome measures, such as limiting capacity at businesses or closing schools.
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 in reducing infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
King County and Public Health developed the vaccine verification policy in consultation with Public Health’s Pandemic and Racism Community Advisory Group, cities, small businesses, chambers of commerce, labor unions, trade associations, sports teams, venues, community groups, and faith-based leaders throughout the county. This engagement helped create a policy that aims to be workable, fair, and equitable for businesses and residents.
Employers, their employees, and volunteers, must implement this Order equitably and may not discriminate based on an individual’s race, national origin, religion, or age. Businesses and venues should provide reasonable accommodation for those who are unable to provide proof of vaccination due to a disability.
Several other local governments have already adopted some form of vaccine verification policy, including New York City, San Francisco, New Orleans, Honolulu, the State of California, British Columbia in Canada, and Clallam and Jefferson counties in Washington state.
Several local sports teams and venues, including the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Kraken, Seattle Storm, University of Washington Huskies, and all events at Climate Pledge Arena adopted vaccination verification policies.
For more information
- Watch our video: Vaccine Verification – What to Expect
- Find a vaccination site in your neighborhood
- Visit Washington state Dept. of Health MyIR vaccine records system
- Check out our vaccine verification homepage and frequently asked questions on vaccine verification
- Download business signage and toolkit at King County Vax Verified
- Review our infographic explaining the Health Order
Originally published October 25, 2021