Why some younger new Americans in Vermont got COVID vaccinations

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 6:18 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - There are questions about how the state of Vermont is deciding who gets vaccinated after some new Americans got their shots this weekend.

People 75 and older were vaccinated along with younger members of their multigenerational households who came with them.

The Vermont Department of Health says these clinics are geared toward new Americans, some of whom don’t speak English, and that this group of people has a higher risk relative to the rest of the population for getting ill.

About 100 vaccines were given over the two clinics to people who the health department says might not have accessed the vaccine otherwise.

On Jan. 15, Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine explained why new American households could have access to the vaccine: “Because we are investing a bunch of resources and will be interacting with family members because congregate living is somewhat common and they are large households, making sure we can educate and involve and, if necessary and because people want it, vaccinate the contingent in the entire household.”

The health department says it’s all about cocooning these older members by vaccinating the whole households of homes where individuals are among communities that have significant barriers to vaccine access.

“We also know that among this community there is some vaccine hesitancy and we expect we won’t get as much uptake with vaccination opportunities, so we are trying to think of the different ways we can get this community vaccinated. So, one way is to offer this kind of opportunity to say bring the person who’s 75 and older and their support people around them,” said Tracy Donlan, the deputy commissioner of the Vt. Department of Health.

At the clinic on Saturday, interpreters were present to help facilitate the process to allow everyone to understand exactly what was going on. And the health department says their data shows these members of the community are likely to be infected at three to four times the rate of others.

I was at the clinic on Saturday and many of these immigrant and refugee members of the community expressed how grateful they were to have things in their own language so they could understand this, and the health department has even been doing information sessions in languages like Nepali and Vietnamese to help gain trust in this vaccine.

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Vt. Health Dept. vaccinating New American families

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