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New England News

Governor Challenges Vermonters To Meet 80 Percent Vaccination Goal

The COVID-19 vaccine moves from cold storage at the Department of Health to coolers and is transported to the TU Center for mass vaccination clinics.
Jackie Orchard
/
WAMC
COVID-19 vaccine (file)

Vermont is on pace to reach its reopening goal ahead of schedule.  During Friday’s COVID-19 briefing Governor Phil Scott offered an incentive to get the state fully reopened before the current July 4th goal.

In April state officials announced a reopening plan based on projected vaccination rates called Vermont Forward. It sets goals to gradually eliminate restrictions and reopen fully July 4th. On Friday, Vermont Governor Phil Scott said the vaccination goals set in the plan are being reached earlier than anticipated so he’s making a challenge in hopes of eliminating pandemic mandates earlier. 

“Right now we lead the nation with over 70 percent of the eligible population those 12 and over having received at least one dose of  the vaccine," Scott said. "So here’s my challenge to you: if we hit 80 percent I’ll lift any remaining restrictions and mandates that day. To reach 80 percent we’ll need to vaccinate another 27,954 Vermonters.”

The Republican says if vaccinations continue at the current pace restrictions will be able to be lifted on June 8th.

Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith noted that 412, 806 or 74.9 percent of Vermonters have received at least one dose. He outlined a four phase strategy to meet the 80 percent goal of vaccinating those 12 and older.  

“First we will continue bringing the vaccine to the various events and at work sites," Smith said. "Second we will continue our walk-in strategy at all of our locations. Third we will be distributing vaccine to primary care physicians. And lastly a renewed effort of vulnerable populations including the homeless, those on probation and parole under DOC supervision as well as those that have declined in our incarcerated populations. This strategy is designed to reach out to as many Vermonters as possible at the places they work play or live.”

Scott added that reaching the goal and eliminating restrictions will not mean an end to vaccination efforts.

“We’re going to continue to set up clinics, advocate for people to get their vaccination," the governor said. "This isn’t over by any means. But I believe at that point when we hit 80 percent the majority of people will be protected.”

The Vermont legislative session is nearing its end. Scott said the session was unique in being completely virtual and is pleased with the Democratic-controlled legislature’s work. 

“It appears the budget that they’ve shook hands on is something that we can support barring anything unforeseen that we didn’t see in the last minute details," Scott said. "So I think this is something we can work with and I appreciate the legislature moving forward with us and working with us.”

State officials plan to provide a daily vaccination countdown.  While restrictions would end when the vaccination rate hits 80 percent the state emergency order will remain in place for several weeks to assure funding and other technical issues are resolved.

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