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New England News

Vermont Governor Announces Vaccination Mandate For Some State Employees

Vermont Governor Phil Scott  (file photo)
WAMC/Pat Bradley
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Vermont Governor Phil Scott

Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s weekly briefing Tuesday focused on rising concerns as COVID-19’s delta variant spreads across the nation and particularly threatens the unvaccinated. He announced a limited vaccination requirement for some state workers.

Governor Scott says people must accept that the pandemic will need to be managed for quite some time and added it is fortunate that Vermont has built a strong foundation to dampen its impact. The state’s vaccination rate is 84.6 percent with about 85,000 Vermonters remaining unvaccinated, in addition to children under 12 who are not eligible to get a shot. Scott says those numbers are high enough to allow the delta variant to spread. He praised businesses and institutions including hospitals and colleges that are beginning to require proof of vaccination. "I believe all hospitals, long term care facilities and other places that come into frequent contact with high risk populations should follow suit and require the vaccine. And to help set the example I’m announcing today that my team is working to do the same starting with certain state institutions like the veteran’s home, correctional facilities and our psychiatric hospital. A legal team from my office and the Agency of Administration is working with the Department Human Resources and others to move forward with a vaccine requirement for these state employees."

Scott said the rapid transmissibility of the delta variant inspired the limited vaccination mandate. “We have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable under our care and I think those in the veteran’s home, the psychiatric hospital as well as the offenders in the correctional facilities they’re under our care. Now the mandatory vaccination that we’re considering it won’t be forced. There may be testing involved. There may be some other avenue for those who are not willing to be vaccinated. But we just think it’s a good idea considering what’s happening, what we’re seeing across the country.”

Secretary of Human Services Mike Smith said the state is intensifying vaccination efforts across the state especially as schools prepare to reopen in the fall. “Given the rise in cases especially among Vermonters unvaccinated and given that just over 85,000 of eligible Vermonters still haven’t been vaccinated we are ramping up our efforts both at the school level and generally. We also want to support schools across Vermont to get to an 80 percent vaccination rate. Starting this week and over the next three weeks there will be vaccine clinics in schools across the state serving all districts. Clinics will continue in schools over the next two months. If you are under 18 you can register on line or walk in as long as you have a parent or guardian and have the appropriate parental consent forms.”