King County could have a “vaccine verification” system in place starting in October for businesses like restaurants, bars, and music venues, officials said Tuesday.
The announcement from Seattle and King County Public Health says the county “is working to develop a vaccine verification policy for some non-essential indoor business activities and other venues” and that the requirements would go into effect in October.
With economies reopening even as the spread of the virus has again accelerated, many cities and counties across the country have put vaccination verification requirements in place including Clallam and Jefferson counties in Washington. One of the most advanced is New York’s Excelsior Pass, “a secure, digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccination record or negative test results” verified by the state’s health records.
For Seattle and King County, officials say they are “conducting outreach with business and community organizations” to develop local vaccine verification requirements for “some non-essential indoor business activities and other venues.” The requirements would go into effect at least five weeks after they’ve been “developed,” according to the county announcement.
“We are experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations caused by the highly infectious Delta variant that is causing serious stress on our regional healthcare system,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County’s Health Officer. “COVID-19 vaccines are safe, highly effective, and readily available, and verifying vaccination in certain non-essential, high-risk settings can make those places safer for the public, workers, and our community, including children who are not currently eligible for vaccination.”
With the state again requiring masks indoors, King County has also reinstated masking requirements at large outdoor events like professional sports and concerts.
October will also bring new requirements for state, county, and city employees to be vaccinated.
About 60.6% of Washington’s population is estimated to be vaccinated at this point. In King County, officials say 78.2% of the population is now fully vaccinated. Early in the pandemic, officials had hope that achieving 70% vaccination rates would bring “herd immunity” levels and slow the spread of the COVID virus.