Vermont officials discussed the latest vaccine distribution plans by the federal government and cautioned younger residents to remain virus vigilant during a COVID briefing Tuesday.
For over a year Governor Phil Scott and administration officials have regularly briefed state residents on the pandemic on Tuesdays and Fridays. When President Joe Biden took office in January a federal vaccine response team began holding regular conference calls on Tuesdays with governors across the nation. Governor Scott joined the Vermont briefing after that call, which included Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“He discussed that they’re watching Europe closely as they’re seeing a rise in cases," Scott said. "But he also said it’s important to note how much better we’re doing here in the U.S. on vaccinations than they are. He also talked about where things are for vaccination of children looking ahead. He thought we should expect all high school students will be eligible this fall and young children by the first part of next year. So they’re doing trials at this point in time and said that’s going well and he fully expects that high school students by the time they go back to school in the fall will be able to be vaccinated.”
By April 19th all Vermonters age 16 and over will be able to make appointments to get a vaccine. Secretary of Human Services Mike Smith says they are planning different strategies to convince those between 16 and 29 to get the shot.
“Obviously we’re going to concentrate heavily on social media because that age group is social media savvy," Smith said. "So we’re going to be concentrating on social media. But what are their, you know, using their friends to help them understand why it’s important to get vaccinated. Us telling them what to do it’s not going to work. We have to have their friends telling them why it’s important. And I think you’ll see a strategy that relies on peers talking to peers about getting vaccinated.”
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine notes that people are feeling a sense of relief with the onset of spring and progress in getting vaccinations. But he also cautions that younger Vermonters in particular must focus on continued vigilance.
“Up until now a huge part of the emphasis has been on older and more vulnerable Vermonters to try to protect them as much as we could," Levine said. "Well now older people are far more protected by vaccine or soon will be. So the next request I am making to Vermonters especially those in the teenage years to age 40 is that you protect yourself. The highest case counts are now among people in these age groups. Why worry about protecting yourself? Long-haul COVID. I don’t want anyone to have your lives hindered by what is starting to become an avoidable virus.”