Exemptions for sale, no questions asked

Awake Health, owned by Elperin, is located at 201 S. Main St. in Ellensburg

Awake Health, owned by Elperin, is located at 201 S. Main St. in Ellensburg

Sean Bessette, Editor in Chief

KING 5 SEATTLE – An Ellensburg doctor and owner of Awake Health, Dr. Anna Elperin, repeatedly sold vaccine and mask exemptions to those without medical conditions, according to an investigation conducted by KING 5.

Following a tip from a viewer, KING 5 sent four undercover journalists to Awake Health to see if the tip was true. All four journalists received exemptions, three of which with no questions asked.

“This is a health issue. Governor Inslee, CWU President Jim Wohlpart, and other leaders have concluded that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to keep our employees, our students, and our community safe and healthy,” Staci Sleigh-Layman, executive director of HR, said. “I am disappointed that a health care provider may have undermined that goal.”

Elperin signed 20% of all exemptions filed at CWU. Of the 17 mask and vaccine exemptions filed by students and staff to CWU, only five exemptions from students and zero from staff were approved, according to the investigation.

As to the process used at CWU for exemptions and accommodations, Sleigh-Layman said, “Employees are asked to provide information about how or why they are unable to receive the COVID vaccine as a result of a medical condition or a religious belief. In the case of medical requests, CWU as an employer needs adequate information about the health condition to develop an accommodation plan that ensures, as much as possible, the safety of the unvaccinated employee as well as others in the workplace.”

It’s unclear how many exemptions signed by Elperin were accepted by employers across the state.

Prior to the state vaccine mandate, Elperin charged $150 for an exemption. Once the mandate hit, she upped her price to $200.

Back in September, Elperin was fined $3,000 by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries for “a serious violation” of COVID-19 safety protocols.

Note: All reporting done by KING 5 SEATTLE. The link to their investigation can be found here.