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Vermont Officials Urge Vaccinations As Reopening Goal Looms

Vermont Statehouse  (file photo)
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Vermont Statehouse (file photo)

Vermont is nearing its goal of vaccinating 80 percent of its population against COVID-19. But thousands more Vermonters need the jab before pandemic restrictions end.

Governor Phil Scott reduced his biweekly COVID-19 briefings to once a week beginning Tuesday. The Republican said after reconciling data with the CDC as of Saturday, 77.9 percent of eligible Vermonters had received at least one dose. He added the CDC data show 11,346 people need the shot to meet the state goal.  

“Vermont continues to lead the nation but even after we hit 80 percent we’re not going to declare victory," Scott said. "We’ll continue pushing forward because the better we do now the better position we’ll be for the long term.”

After his initial comments, Governor Scott left the briefing in the hands of his cabinet while he joined a weekly call with governors across the country and the White House for a vaccine distribution update. When he returned he noted it was a short meeting. 

"Dr. Fauci said he’s pleased to see infections continuing to drop across the country as vaccinations rise," the governor said. "Just like in Vermont getting as many people vaccinated as possible is the goal across the country. We also got an update on our allocations for next week and we’ll be getting the same amount of Pfizer and Moderna. Once again the federal government won’t be distributing any new doses of Johnson & Johnson. However they said that there would be some available through the federal pool program. So that was about it. A fairly short call.”

Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak has been tracking the pandemic’s state, regional and national numbers and trends since March 2020. Vermont has the country’s lowest new case, hospitalization and fatality rates and the highest vaccination rate — making the state the safest in the country in terms of the coronavirus. 

“We have now gone 15 days without someone dying of COVID-19  making Vermont the only state without a COVID-19 death over that period of time," Pieciak said. "Vermont continues to have the lowest COVID-19 hospitalization rate in the country. Vermont’s cases have also continued their rapid decrease over the past few weeks. Taking a look around the region the virus continues to be in retreat in the Northeast. We can track all of this progress back to New England’s high uptake of the vaccine which continues to outpace the rest of the country. Because of these high vaccination rates we anticipate these favorable trends both in Vermont and in the region to continue for the foreseeable future.”

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine believes the state can get to 80 percent vaccinated because people trust the science behind the vaccine. 

“The higher we can get Vermont’s vaccination rate the higher the probability we will truly suppress Coronavirus activity in this state meaning less likelihood of mutations and more virulent strains and boding well for the fall and winter respiratory virus season," said Levine.

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