Vermont officials discuss next phase of vaccine rollout, school reopenings

Vermont News

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) – At Tuesday’s COVID-19 briefing, state officials said another pharmacy has received permission to begin giving COVID-19 vaccinations and signaled that the next phase of the vaccine rollout is likely happening soon.

Twenty Walgreens locations across Vermont will join the growing list of vaccination sites, receiving anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 doses per week. More information is expected in the coming days, but the sites are expected to begin operating by Friday.

With focus turning toward the next age group in the coming weeks, Vermonters 75 and older who haven’t registered to get vaccinated are being urged to do so soon. They would still be able to register after the next phase begins, but it will help move to the next step more smoothly.

“We feel we’re going to start registration by the end of the month,” Gov. Phil Scott said. “We’re getting to the end of age band 75 so we’ll seamlessly move to the 70 and over from there.”

“Even if your age group is not yet eligible, you can still get a step ahead by creating an account in our system,” added Mike Smith, Secretary of Human Services.

For Vermonters over 75, 98.5% have yet to be vaccinated. As progress continues, Smith is responding to reports that others may have gotten the vaccine despite not meeting the requirements of Phase 1A or Phase 1.

He said it appeared these individuals were healthcare workers, but not the patient-facing ones that would qualify. The state intervened to prevent these individuals from receiving the vaccine too early.

“It probably wasn’t intentional, they were just misreading the guidance or hadn’t read the guidance, but at the same time, I’ve got to recognize that probably some people have gotten vaccines that shouldn’t have, and that’s unfortunate,” Smith said.

He said issues like this have been few and far between, and Vermont’s rollout as a whole has been reasonably successful.

Meanwhile, later this week, the CDC is expected to release the latest guidance on reopening schools, but teachers’ unions across the nation are reluctant to move forward. Both President Biden and Governor Scott have advocated for a plan to reopen schools in the coming months. Vermont officials have also gotten their fair share of pushback from local educators, but state leaders have maintained that the data supports the decision.

“The positivity rate of the staff that have elected to get themselves tested has been a fraction of the state’s positivity rate,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

“It’s not just Vermont data, this is national data that supports this as well,” Gov. Scott added. “The White House has come to the same exact conclusion, so it’s not just Vermont.”

At Tuesday’s briefing, Governor Scott also urged anyone who traveled or visited people outside their home to watch Sunday’s game to get tested for COVID-19.

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