MONTPELIER — As Vermont continues its nation-leading vaccination rate, state officials on Tuesday announced that the residency requirement for vaccination would be removed this week.
The announcement came during Tuesday’s press conference updating the public on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mike Smith, secretary of the Agency of Human Services, said that beginning Thursday, anyone age 12 and older who is visiting the state can also be vaccinated in Vermont, whether or not they are a part-time resident.
The announcement comes on the heels of the state accelerating its reopening plan and opening up vaccination to residents age 12 to 15 last week. As of Tuesday, 9,000 Vermonters age 12 to 15 had scheduled appointments.
“We’re making good progress with this age group, but I would urge more people to sign up,” Smith said.
Here are three key takeaways from Tuesday’s press conference:
1. EMS Week vaccine clinics
Smith said 31 EMS agencies across the state will be hosting walk-in vaccination clinics as part of EMS Week in Vermont, which recognizes and honors EMS workers across the state for the week of May 16-22.
“They have been an exceptional partner throughout this very difficult and exhausting year,” Smith said.
The clinics continue a push by the state to make vaccines more accessible as a greater proportion of the population becomes vaccinated. In addition, 100 school-based clinics have been scheduled across 66 schools in the state — all of which are open to the public.
Smith said the first wave of clinics for restaurants, hospitality and tourism businesses have been completed and more will be organized in the coming weeks.
“I urge Vermonters to take advantage of these efforts as we strive to continue our nation-leading vaccination effort,” Smith said.
Nearby vaccine clinics are also scheduled Wednesday on North Beach in Burlington and Saturday on Church Street.
2. State to scale down Moderna doses
Smith said the state will probably start reducing its allocation request for the Moderna vaccine “at some point.” He stressed the state would not be scaling down its allocation for efficacy reasons, as “it’s highly effective.”
“It doesn’t have the range of groups we can use it on,” Smith said, adding that the “range of what we can use Moderna on is shrinking as we get more and more Vermonters vaccinated.”
The Moderna vaccine hasn’t been approved for use in vaccinating those age 12 to 17.
Gov. Phil Scott said the state’s total vaccine allocation would remain the same this week, which means the state will not receive any Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses.
3. Favorable data continues
Vermont reported 358 cases in the last week, which is down 24% from the week before and 75% since April 1, according to Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation.
“Vermont’s high vaccination rates continue to lead to favorable rates and trends,” Pieciak said. “… Our communities are getting safer by the day.”
With the latest numbers, Vermont as of Tuesday had fewer active cases and hospitalizations than in the last six months, and forecasts estimate the state will see the fewest fatalities in the last six months in May.
Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine pointed to Vermont’s strong vaccination rate as a deciding factor in the downward trend.
“Each and every vaccinated person is an important step toward the finish line,” Levine said.
As of Tuesday, 73.8% of eligible Vermonters had received at least one dose of the vaccine.