MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) – Walk-in clinics are expanding across Vermont as officials hope to improve on the state’s first-in-the-nation vaccination rate.

Regular walk-in opportunities in Essex Junction began at the fairgrounds on Tuesday. The clinic will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and 1-3:30 p.m. There are a total of 150 spots each day for one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Drive-in clinics are also offering vaccinations without registration. There are clinics scheduled for Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford (May 8, 4-7 p.m.), Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven (May 8, TBD), and state officials are also working out the details for an additional clinic at Thunder Road in Barre.

The Vermont Department of Health has been notifying Vermonters of walk-in opportunities via social media – other recent locations have included Fairfax, Middlebury and South Burlington.

This weekend, state officials have also announced a ‘barnstorming’ vaccination event in Essex County. There will be nine locations offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, including the East Haven Community Building, Island Pond Fire Station, Canaan High School, and the Norton Miriam Nelson Municipal Building.

Those locations will not be designated as ‘walk-in’ clinics, but Vermont Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said he’s encouraging walk-ins at all clinics, so you may be able to get vaccinated on the spot if there’s enough supply.

Two months away from Governor Phil Scott’s July 4 target date for a return to normalcy, state officials are looking to pull out all the stops when it comes to boosting vaccination rates.

“We’re trying everything we possibly can, getting as creative as possible to get shots in arms,” Governor Scott said.

Governor Scott said the recent emphasis on access is due in part to the success of Vermont’s first drive-thru clinic in Barton late last month.

“Barton was eye-opening for us,” Governor Scott said. “We had put that into play in a short period of time. We were looking for a population center that was easy to get to, and people didn’t have to go through any challenge to sign up.”

Secretary Smith added that officials want to make sure that Vermont stays first-in-the-nation when it comes to vaccination rates, and other walk-in locations could be coming soon.

“We’ve been talking about having a vaccination site on Church Street on occasion, maybe down by the waterfront in Burlington,” Smith said. “Not only Burlington, but elsewhere throughout the state where there’s people that get together.”

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine urged younger Vermonters to take advantage of the expanded opportunities to get vaccinated.

“Especially younger Vermonters who waited patiently as we first protected those who were older and high risk, I want you to know: it’s your turn now. Your shot is waiting for you,” Dr. Levine said.

He also said there’s still a responsibility for people who have been fully vaccinated: spread the word to others.

“So, if you haven’t yet, I ask you now to reach out to someone in your life, especially if they are younger, who may not be vaccinated, whether you’re a parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle, or a friend,” Dr. Levine said. “Share your own experience and see what you might be able to do to help. Your influence likely means more than you know.”

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