More than 32K Vermonters signed up for vaccinations

Published: Jan. 29, 2021 at 6:18 AM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - With nearly 40,000 Vermonters 75-plus either having been vaccinated or with an appointment penciled in, state health officials are mulling over when to open up the next age grouping.

Governor Phil Scott Friday said unpredictable allotments from federal officials is giving them pause. “We don’t want to open up too quick in case all of the sudden the federal government decides we’re going to get another allotment of more of the vaccine and that would enable us to have more time slots available,” Scott said.

As of Friday, 32,556 Vermonters 75 years and older have scheduled their appointment. AHS Secretary Mike Smith says the state is still on track to get everyone 65 and older at least one dose by the end of winter or start of spring, and many, he says, will have gotten their second dose too.

Smith says the state is trying to prevent wasted shots. There are lists of people who are eligible who could be called at the end of the day if there are any extras and they are advising clinics to use common sense to not waste them.

Officials provided further details about 860 vaccine doses at Springfield Hospital that earlier this week were thought to have been spoiled because of a storage issue. Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine now says the manufacturer, Moderna, has cleared their use after all.

Most colleges and universities are showing a few new cases, but at Norwich University there are now more than 80 cases. Levine says it’s most likely due to students traveling and not quarantining. Some students are sicker than those who got COVID in the fall, so the state is trying to determine if those students have a new strain of the virus.

But as more and more people are vaccinated, many are wondering when life will be able to return to ‘normal.’ “Gatherings and parties and stuff like that - birthday parties,” said Branaman Ferrell of Montpelier.

“I’m looking forward to being outside and getting fresh air, being in public without a mask in my face,” said Evan Choquette of Williamstown.

State leaders say we still have to wait for more guidance from the CDC for that.

But as more vulnerable Vermonters in long-term care facilities get their second dose of the vaccine. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says they will be able to leave their rooms more to see others in their building. “Whether it be more community dining, a game room -- what have you, social events -- things of that sort at these facilities,” he said.

In the meantime, Levine says until most of Vermont gets both shots, people should all sticking to the CDC guidelines including masking and social-distancing.

Johnson & Johnson Friday announced its COVID vaccine is 66% effective. That’s less effective than the other two on the market already but another weapon in the arsenal in the fight against COVID. The health commissioner says they are waiting to get more information about it as the company seeks emergency use authorization.

As of Thursday, Vermont health officials reported 132 new coronavirus cases for a total of 11,523. There have been a total of 172 deaths. The state’s percent positive seven-day average is 2.2%. A total of 299,339 people have been tested, 161 travelers are being monitored, 12,581 have completed monitoring, and 7,826 have recovered.

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