Vermont’s vaccination rate keeps Delta variant at bay, officials say


MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) — Vermont is still the most vaccinated state in the nation, but the spread of the Delta variant in some parts of the country had state officials answering questions on whether Vermonters should be worried.

The variant now accounts for roughly half of recent COVID-19 cases across the U.S. Gov. Phil Scott and other administration officials said Vermont’s 82.4% vaccination rate has stopped the variant from taking hold here.

Scott was also asked Tuesday if he believes there is anything from Vermont’s vaccine playbook that could help states that haven’t had as much success. “We do offer advice, but I’m not sure everything we do here in Vermont would necessarily work in another state,” Scott said. “You’ve got to meet where they are, and you’ve got to tell it to them straight, and hopefully they’ll follow through.”

Scott said Vermonters’ trust in the vaccine and the state’s refusal to make it a point of political tension is something that’s missing elsewhere in the country, adding that’s not necessarily the fault of state leaders.

“It started, I think, with the previous administration,” Scott said. “The hesitancy of communicating that this is a real issue, whether it was anti-masking, whether it was that COVID was going to be over in a couple of months, it just started then and went downhill from there.”

In some states, the Delta variant is causing more than 80% of new COVID-19 infections, and this comes amid concerns the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have varying degrees of effectiveness against it.

Vermont’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Mark Levine, took to the podium to reassure those closely following the results of new studies. “All the vaccines we’re using in the United States are highly effective, and that includes J&J,” Dr. Levine said. “Since we have such high vaccination rates in Vermont, our level of protection is even higher.”

Still, some are already asking about booster shots for the J&J vaccine, despite Dr. Anthony Fauci’s belief that there isn’t enough data to recommend that yet. “There’s no data currently on how the Johnson and Johnson vaccine specifically would work with the other vaccines,” Dr. Levine said. “We will eagerly await this data, monitor the CDC’s recommendations, and share new guidance as soon as it is available.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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