During his regular pandemic briefing this morning, Governor Phil Scott and Vermont officials outlined plans for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available.
While it is too soon to determine if the state will see an increase in COVID-19 cases from Christmas and New Year’s travel or gatherings, Governor Phil Scott hopes the current plateau will continue. Nearly 10 months into the pandemic he urged residents to continue following safety guidelines as the vaccine rolls out. “Our vaccination teams are meeting multiple times a day keeping track of what we’re getting in, what’s going out and the progress we’re making to ensure we meet our top goal of preventing as many deaths as possible. The team has identified ways to improve our reporting so the public has a better sense of our progress, planning for the next phase of the roll out and importantly they’re working with the federal government for more flexibility to distribute to long term care facilities.”
About 9,800 Vermonters have been vaccinated so far. Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith says as of Monday 14.8 percent of Phase 1A has received the first dose and by the end of January all of Phase 1 eligible individuals should receive at least their first dose. “So what comes next is the question that we often get. The completion of 1A marks the beginning of the mass vaccination program. The mass vax program will have four locations where Vermonters can go to be vaccinated. These are your primary care provider, pharmacies, health department district office sites and then of course mass vaccine sites set up or in conjunction with our testing sites that we have at multiple locations. All of them will be in service when enough vaccine is available.”
Vermont’s Vaccine Implementation Advisory Group is finalizing criteria for statewide vaccine distribution following Phase 1A. Secretary Smith emphasized that vaccinations will be prioritized and given based on age. “There will be age bands established when you will be eligible to be vaccinated. For example 75 plus will be the first to get vaccine after the completion of 1A. Then 70 and over and then 65 and older and so on and so forth. So we’ve gone to the age banding after 1A and put in as well as priority those people that have been disadvantaged and those people who have chronic conditions. We think this is the fairest way. We think this is the most understandable way. We think this is the easiest to administer. And it runs right up to our primary objective which is saving lives.”
The Vermont Department of Health reported an additional COVID-19 death, bringing to 10 the number of deaths in the past five days and 130 overall in the state since the pandemic began.