Vaccinations to open for 70-plus age group Tuesday
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont officials announced Friday that they will open the next phase of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination program next week to some 33,000 residents in the 70-plus age category.
“The next age band is an important step, especially with hope on the horizon for increased supply and approval of new vaccines,” said Gov. Phil Scott.
“I’ve spoken to a couple of people today in my age bracket and they say they’re going to get it as soon as they can,” said Daniel Hecht, a Montpelier resident.
“It’s not the fastest process but it’s a thorough process and it seems to me there is a higher percentage within that age group that is being vaccinated, and that’s great,” said Taylor McNeely of Montpelier.
AHS Secretary Mike Smith says those in the 70-plus age group will be allowed to begin registering for vaccination on Tuesday, February 16 at 8:15 a.m. Those in that age group can set up an online account ahead of time, but they will not be able to register until Tuesday. Registrations for the previous age category will also continue. Smith says the pace of vaccinations is going faster than anticipated and he hopes to open the 65-plus age group in the coming weeks.
As of Friday, 70,000 Vermonters have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Twenty Walgreens pharmacies around the state also joined the vaccination effort Friday.
Officials say there are still areas of concern and high case counts in Bennington, Rutland, and Franklin Counties are driving the state’s 1.6% positivity rate. Bennington and Rutland County cases are showing signs of decreasing but cases in Franklin County are still on the rise. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine gave a warning to those not complying with safety guidelines. “You may not only be contributing to the spread of the virus, but also be holding us all back from the future we’re working towards,” he said.
Also on the minds of state leaders Friday was new guidance from the CDC saying you don’t have to quarantine if you’ve had both of your shots for more than two weeks but less than three months. Levine says he’s encouraged by the news but says it’s too soon to see if that will affect travel guidance. “This is really great news and shows that vaccination not only protects you from getting infected in those 90-days, but also that you won’t be able to spread the virus either,” he said.
And starting next week, music programs are coming back to schools, along with restrictions like masking, air circulation, and no audiences. Guidance on theatre and performing arts is coming soon.
Next week the governor says he’s going to extend the state of emergency for another month, but that he hopes this will be the last time as the state works toward a return to normal.
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