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Vermont officials emphasize vaccinations as Omicron variant spreads

Vermont Statehouse
WAMC/Pat Bradley
/
The Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier

Vermont officials continued their emphasis on vaccination and testing as the primary defense against COVID-19 during the governor’s weekly briefing Tuesday afternoon.

Every two weeks Republican Vermont Governor Phil Scott joins a nationwide call between the White House and the National Governors’ Association for an update on the pandemic. This week he reported that the focus was on Omicron becoming the dominant strain in the U.S. and the importance of getting vaccinated and boosted to protect against infection. He reflected that it was just over a year ago that the first Vermonter received the COVID-19 vaccine. Scott said since then nearly 500,000 state residents have followed suit, saving an estimated one thousand lives.

“Vermonters have faced challenges head on and you’ve done it better than anyone else," Scott said. "But now we’re about to face another challenge. As we’re seeing across the country, and in fact the world, the Omicron variant is very transmissible and spreading fast. The most important thing you can do right now to protect yourself and others is to get fully protected. Get your booster. If you’re not vaccinated at all it’s just a matter of time before COVID finds you.”

At the governor’s direction on Thursday the Agency of Commerce and Community Development issued guidance to the business community on how to further protect their employees and customers from the variant. Secretary Lindsay Kurrle said they are recommending businesses encourage vaccinations or adopt proof of vaccination policies.

“Our intention was to offer recommendations for best practices for workplace safety and tips for motivating employees to get vaccinated which eliminates their need to quarantine if they are identified as a close contact of a positive case and they have no symptoms," Kurrle said. "These recommendations are not mandates or required but instead useful strategies developed in consultation with our own health experts.”

Governor Scott ended his briefing offering holiday wishes to Vermonters.

“Regardless of whether you observe Christmas or not I hope you have a very safe and enjoyable weekend," the governor said. "And maybe you could just reflect for a moment on all the good that’s still out there in the world. Sometimes you have to search a little harder for it. And if you’re searching and can’t find it maybe you should create it. Those random acts of kindness are so much needed in this world, in the controversial world we’re living in right now. So take a moment and reach out to someone in need because I guarantee they could use a helping hand.”

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