BENNINGTON, V.T. (NEWS10)– Today, vaccine eligibility is expanding to those who are 16 and older in both Massachusetts and Vermont.

In Bennington County, 56.8% of the population has already received at least one vaccine dose– the highest of any county in the state.

“That’s for several reasons,” explained Dr. Trey Dobson, Chief Medical Officer at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. “One, the population is willing and ready to be vaccinated and two, we’ve had an excellent clinic where it’s had a large capacity.”

That number is expected to grow because as of today, Vermont’s vaccine eligibility is expanding to include those who are 16 and older.

“This is an age group, a demographic— the younger folks, we really want to focus on,” said Dr. Dobson. “They are the ones who have been waiting. They are the ones contributing to society the most, and we need to get them vaccinated so we can get rid of all of these mitigation measures and return to socializing and interacting.”

When it comes to 16 and 17 year-olds getting vaccinated, they can only receive the Pfizer vaccine at this point.

“If vaccinated people get together and hangout they’re safe. If you’re not vaccinated, you’re not safe and you will eventually get COVID-19,” stated Dr. Dobson.

The expanded eligibility is a relief for some parents now that their children can sign up.

“My son is 16 and older and he was finally able to get on this morning,” explained Mary Senecal, a Vermont resident. “He goes next Friday and we cannot wait!”