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New England News

Vermont Officials Discuss Vaccination Rates During Tuesday Briefing

Vermont Statehouse
Vermont Statehouse (file)

Vermont officials discussed the rate and the willingness of residents to be vaccinated during the governor’s regular COVID-19 update on Tuesday.

Republican Governor Phil Scott joined the regularly scheduled briefing late after participating in the weekly White House update to governors on vaccine distribution.  Vermont Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak kicked off the state briefing noting 93.6 % of Vermonters 65 and older have received one or both doses of vaccine and the CDC ranks the state among the top 10 in percentage of population fully vaccinated.  “We continue to remain optimistic about the ultimate percentage of Vermonters who will get vaccinated as survey data continues to rank Vermont as one of the least hesitant states in the country when it comes to the vaccine. Just look at how important vaccines have been to Vermont to date.  Given the higher case rates that we’ve experienced over the winter we estimate that 120 lives have been saved by the vaccine to date here in Vermont, totaling about half of  all the COVID-19 fatalities we’ve experienced to date. All because of these powerful vaccines and because Vermonters are willing to get vaccinated.”

On Friday the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will consider whether a pause imposed on April 13th on using the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine should be lifted.  Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says he’s heard from a number of Vermonters who want the J&J vaccine. “I’ve been astonished at the number of people who are just very disappointed, some of them not clearly understanding why the pause was important to do, and just saying I’m ready to go please get me my shot.  We’ve hypothesized, and we meaning the public health community in general, about how youth might like this more than the two dose vaccine as well and I don’t really hear that that attitude has changed either. So I don’t think we’re going to find that hesitancy is our problem here, at least in Vermont, with regard to the J&J.”

When he joined the briefing, Governor Scott reported that the federal vaccine distribution to states will remain level and pharmacies will receive a slight increase next week.  Doses will only be shipped from Pfizer and Moderna and nothing will be sent from Johnson &  Johnson, although the company continues to manufacture their vaccine on a limited basis.

Scott then turned to the state’s recovery. Vermont allowed outdoor high school sports to resume over the weekend with spectators required to wear masks and social distance.  Governor Scott says high vaccination rates mean some of the state’s guidance for events like that may soon change.  “The Vermont Forward Plan lays out our strategy over the next couple months and by the Fourth of July we hope to lift everything. So there won’t be a mask mandate at that point in time. Sometime between now and then we may be lifting the mask mandate for those outside because we know that the spread is more inside than outside and in confined spaces. So as we transition to having no mandates there may be some steps along the way. So we’ll discuss that further. Nothing has been confirmed on that but we’ll have those conversations.”

 

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