Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s regular Tuesday coronavirus briefing included discussions over vaccination protocols as the state accelerates its schedule.
Vermont is vaccinating its residents based on age. The state had split the next group to receive vaccinations – individuals with certain high-risk health conditions — with the first section allowed to make appointments on Monday. Governor Phil Scott says the timetable has been adjusted after the initial response.
“On the first day under 10,000 have signed up which is a bit fewer than we had hoped," Scott said. "We had planned to rollout 5B those 16 and over on Monday. So we’re going to move that up. We’re going to move that date up to Thursday instead. As a reminder the total population of this group is about 75,000 so we want to make sure that we get to them as quickly as possible.”
The state is also pursuing a parallel track to vaccinate all school staff, child care providers and correctional staff. Governor Scott said they are able to add those individuals due to increased federal supply of the vaccine.
“From the beginning our focus has been about protecting the health and safety of Vermonters and in this case it’s our kids," the governor said. "As the data has shown they’re struggling with mental health as a result of the pandemic and the remote and hybrid learning that came with it. That’s why putting school staff and child care workers on this parallel track is critical.”
Last month wastewater testing in Burlington detected the UK variant of COVID-19. Samples were sent to the Health Department for further testing and on Monday the results were confirmed. Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said the results were expected.
“It’s been discovered in virtually every state now and mutations discovered in Burlington wastewater had already pointed to the likelihood it was here," Levine said. "This variant is easier to transmit. The good news is that the data shows the current vaccines are effective against this variant strain. So get vaccinated when you’re eligible and in the meantime help protect your fellow Vermonters by wearing your mask, keeping your distance and avoiding crowds.”
Dr. Levine said his department is also prioritizing strategies to get BIPOC — Black, Indigenous, People of Color — residents vaccinated.
“Our data shows that BIPOC Vermonters are more likely to get COVID-19 compared to white, non-Hispanic Vermonters making up six percent of the population but eighteen percent of positive cases," Levine said. "But we are seeing significant disparities in the rate of vaccination among BIPOC Vermonters compared to white, non-Hispanic Vermonters. We have listened to our BIPOC community partners about the kinds of approaches that would work for them. We can and must do better.”