Sequim laboratory sees high compliance with vaccine mandate

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and its Sequim lab report high compliance among its workforce for COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Greg Koller, spokesperson for PNNL, said that of its 5,300 staffers, about 95 percent attest to being fully vaccinated.

Battelle Pacific Northwest Division issued a vaccination requirement last September mandating its staff at PNNL to either attest to being vaccinated or have an approved medical or religious exemption by Nov. 15, Koller said.

By the deadline, 93 percent attested to being vaccinated with another 2 percent saying they were in process of becoming vaccinated.

“Many (though not all) of the remaining staff submitted requests for an exemption and most of those requests (though not all) were granted accommodations,” Koller said.

The Battelle Pacific Northwest Division, who operates PNNL and Sequim’s Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory (MCRL) for the U.S. Department of Energy, required its own vaccine mandate separate from the federal employee vaccine requirement, Koller said, as PNNL employees do not work directly for the federal government.

The company’s requirements went in place around the same time as President Joe Biden’s requirement that all federal employees be fully vaccinated from the virus by Nov. 21, 2021.

Further federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates went into effect this week from the Biden Administration for private companies with 100 or more employees.

However, action from the U.S. Supreme Court could counter this by ruling the mandate unconstitutional.

As of press time, no action was taken by the court.

For PNNL, fewer than 50 staffers left because of the company’s requirement, Koller said, with less than 10 percent of that (less than five staffers) from the Sequim campus.

“The PNNL-Sequim separations were voluntary resignations and no staff who requested an exemption were terminated for not being vaccinated,” Koller said.

Staff were offered an unpaid leave of absence or the option to use vacation, he said, and accommodations would be reassessed as circumstances change.

As to who left, Koller said they won’t discuss individual employment situations and which departments were impacted.

With some openings among PNNL’s campuses, Koller said the company is “growing and is continuing to hire across many research disciplines” and that new hires must follow the same vaccination requirements or request an exemption to be reviewed for accommodation.

Formerly the Marine Research Laboratory, the Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory (MCRL) is the Department of Energy’s only coastal and marine sciences laboratory.

Battelle, owner/operator of PNNL, purchased the historic site in 1966 from the Bugge family estate.

Previously, PNNL reported more than 80 researchers work on more than 100 types of projects, such as producing marine energy, eelgrass and ocean habitat preservation, and much more.

For more information about PNNL and the Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory, visit