MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) — Despite technical difficulties with the state’s phone lines Monday, Vermont registered more than 700 people ages 75 and older for the COVID booster vaccine.
“Once our phone was working, it actually went very well,” said Kelly Dougherty, Deputy Health Commissioner. “I actually heard from our call center director that they had very minimal wait times—less than five minutes throughout the day.”
The health department made 737 appointments at state-sponsored clinics. Dougherty says this number will likely be higher once pharmacies that deliver the vaccine are factored in. More than 1,000 people who are 80 and older have made appointments since they became eligible for the booster last week, she said.
Organizations distributing the boosters say they’re ready for the rollout. Mark Podgwaite, executive director of Waterbury Ambulance, said he and his colleagues set up at the Agency of Transportation building in Berlin as soon as they had the green light. “We were given the word on Thursday that it was a go for Monday,” said Podgwaite. “Basically, three days to get this place set up and ready to roll.”
Dougherty says there will be up to 18 boosters clinics available this week, and up to 11 on the weekends. Dougherty says the state is busy promoting the vaccine to those eligible for the booster, as well as anyone ages 12 and older who remains unvaccinated. “There is a lot of nuanced messaging happening,” she said, “We’re really just trying to get the word out as best we can so we can continue to be one of the highest vaccinated states in the country.”
Booster shots will be available to those 70 and older on Wednesday. On Friday, people 65 and older—and 18- to 64-year-olds with chronic health conditions—will be eligible.
Dougherty said several state agencies experienced problems with the phone system Monday. The Health Department notified followers on social media shortly after 10 a.m., but the problem was fixed within the hour.