MONTPELIER — Beginning Monday, Vermonters age 65 and older will be allowed to make appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
During his twice-weekly press conference on the state’s response to COVID-19 on Tuesday, Gov. Phil Scott and other state officials announced that 91,000 Vermonters have been vaccinated.
Thus far, 66% of Vermonters in the 75 and older category and 18% in the 70-74 category have received at least one dose, and 1,122 homebound Vermonters have received their first dose of the vaccine.
Here are a few takeaways from the press conference:
1. Vermonters 65-plus able to make vaccines appointmentsBeginning Monday, the Vermont Agency of Human Services says Vermonters 65 and older will be able to make appointments to get vaccinated.
Agency head Mike Smith says there are 42,000 people in Vermont in that category but their call centers will be ready.
“We continue to work with our healthcare providers to identify those who don’t receive home health care,” says Smith.
Scott says that as soon as they finish vaccinating Vermonters 65 and older, the state will move on to Phase 6.
“We may stick with the same approach or we may move on to satisfying another sector” says Scott. “At this point in time we have not made any decisions yet.”
The governor says that the state has received continuous calls into his office regarding vaccine prioritization but demand still outweighs the federal government’s ability to provide enough vaccines.
“Every state has very different strategies, some work, some don’t,” he said.
2. Additional testing at St. Albans American LegionThe Vermont Health Department is planning an additional testing opportunity to be held at the St. Albans American Legion.
Tests will be administered on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Walk-ins and appointments are available.
“The bottom line is the sooner you know you have the virus, the sooner you can protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from COVID-19,” said Scott.
Scott says 13.5 million vaccines have been distributed nationwide. Next week, that will extend to 14.5 million. He says this means an additional 1,000 more doses for Vermont.
3. Scott lifts ban on household gatheringEffective immediately, Vermont is lifting the ban on household gatherings. Vermonters who are fully vaccinated can visit one household at a time.
“To give you an example, if your parents are fully vaccinated, you can go to their house for dinner and vice-versa,” Scott said. “If you’re a nurse vaccinated in Phase 1 you can visit a friend even if they’re not vaccinated yet.”
Scott also says that Vermonters and visitors who have received the vaccine can travel without quarantine.
Still, the governor stresses the importance of following public health guidance.
“We’re working through how this would impact other issues and we hope to have more answers in the days and weeks ahead,” says Scott.
Scott says that he sees the light at the end of the tunnel but stresses that it’s important to follow public health guidance.
Following his daily call with the the federal government, Scott said that Johnson & Johnson announced they are expected to distribute about 2 million doses of the vaccine in the coming weeks. This means about 2,000 more does per week.
“However, they couldn’t commit to a steady supply over three weeks but they also added that they anticipated 20 million doses by the end of March, which didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time but stay tuned,” says Scott.