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Vermont briefing outlines youth vaccinations and urges adults to get COVID shots to assure ICU capacity

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

During Governor Phil Scott’s weekly briefing today, state officials highlighted Vermont’s progress at scheduling youth vaccinations and also urged adults to get the COVID-19 shots to prevent any possible strain on hospitals.

Vermont’s Republican governor participates in the bi-weekly Tuesday morning conference call between the White House and the National Governors Association for pandemic updates.

Scott says federal officials called last week’s approval of COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11 a milestone and emphasized the importance of getting the shots out.

“The White House COVID response Coordinator Jeff Zients highlighted Vermont to all the other governors as having the highest number of 5 to 11 year olds scheduled for vaccination. Leading the nation once again," said Scott. "As a result of strong uptake we requested additional doses for next week and the White House approved them. So I want to thank them for that. We’ll be getting an additional 3,900 doses on top of the 5,100 that we were already allotted making for 9,000.”

Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said just over 30 percent of Vermont children in the 5 to 11 age group have begun the process to get their inoculations for COVID-19.

“As of today 14,360 children ages 5 to 11 have appointments to get vaccinated or have already begun vaccination. For this age range we have six on-going EMS clinics, 11 health care partner locations available and between those groups they’re offering about 30 vaccine clinics for children each week," explains Smith. "We also have vaccine clinics running at 94 schools across the state over the next 45 days. These clinics are in addition to our regular state-run clinics and many pharmacies are now offering 5 to 11 year olds the opportunity to get vaccinated.”

The weekly data presentation shows a 42 percent increase in the COVID-19 case rates over last week, a trend that is occurring throughout New England.

Governor Scott says while Vermont has one of the lowest COVID hospitalization rates in the country, unvaccinated infected individuals are straining hospital capacity.

“Our biggest concern at this point is our ICU capacity. Currently COVID patients make up about 10 to 15 percent of those in the ICU. But because of increases in non-COVID cases we’ve had days where there are only 10 open ICU beds in the state.”

There are only 100 ICU beds across the entire state. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said there is a rising need for them as hospitals treat those with worsening chronic medical conditions, many whose care was delayed during the height of the pandemic.

"This demand on the health care system is going to continue for some time. So if we can minimize the impact COVID has on ICU bed capacity that is a lot more doable now than reducing the number of people who need urgent medical care.”

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