MONTPELIER — On Friday, Gov. Phil Scott informed the state that Vermont has already hit its June 1 vaccination milestone for the Vermont Forward Plan and so will subsequently be moving into Phase 3 recommendations effective immediately.
Here are key takeaways from Friday’s press conference updating the public on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
State moves to Stage 3
According to the current plan, by July 4 gatherings and events will have no restrictions and while masks and physical distancing are encouraged, universal guidance is advised for all sectors.
“I want to thank Vermonters for making this possible,” Scott said. “Because of you, stepping up for the greater good, doing your part and getting vaccinated, we are able to do this.”
In accordance with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, Scott said that those who are vaccinated will no longer be required to wear masks either indoors or outdoors, nor will they be required to socially distance when around others.
“As we’ve seen, vaccines work,” Scott said. “There might be some who are a little uncomfortable, a little hesitant, and that’s okay ... but the fact is, if you’re fully vaccinated, the health experts at the CDC have determined there is very little risk.”
Vermont will be receiving an additional 5,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine next week thanks to the new federal pooling system.
School vaccine clinics to open
The Agency of Education has been setting up vaccination and walk-in vaccination clinics for those ages 12-15, many of which will be held at school sites around the state.
According to state officials, starting Monday, parents can come to a clinic and give consent in person, complete and sign the vaccine consent form and send it in with their child, or a member of the vaccination staff can call the parent or guardian and document consent given over the phone.
Education Secretary Dan French strongly encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated, and advised all school leaders to prepare for 100% in-person learning and operations with the start of the next school year.
Agency of Human Services
Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith announced further vaccination opportunities Friday, including a May 20 walk-in clinic at North Beach in Burlington.
On May 21, 22 and 23, Vermont’s EMS and fire departments will host clinics at over 32 sites throughout Vermont, including on Church Street in Burlington on May 22.
The Vermont Department of Health will be hosting vaccine clinics for restaurant and hospitality workers over the next week at seven locations administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on a walk-in basis. The first wave of vaccinations will be held in Waterbury, Woodstock, Middlebury, Waitsfield, Windsor, South Burlington and Warren, and more will be added as details are confirmed.
“Besides the life-saving benefit, you may even have fun doing it,” Smith said.
According to Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, 58 cases were reported on Friday, and the positivity rate remains at 1%. Twelve hospitalizations were reported on Friday, with two people in the ICU.
Thursday, for the first time since November, the UVM Medical Center reported no COVID-19 inpatients, and only three deaths have been recorded for this month so far, according to Levine.
Levine also urged those not vaccinated to prioritize doing so, as the quality of life and ability to gather once again would become more of a reality as others were tested.
“Fully vaccinated people can now confidently participate in both indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” Levine said.