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Rutland County leads state in vaccinating residents

Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 6:12 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Rutland County is leading the rest of the state when it comes to getting residents vaccinated. Rutland Regional Medical Center and other health care organizations say they are working hard to reach residents, telling them vaccination is the best way to end the pandemic.

Jonathan Reynolds of Rutland Regional Medical Center says when COVID-19 vaccinations began -- the hospital hired extra staff and prepared to vaccinate almost sixty-thousand people as quickly as possible. “Folks that live within Rutland County are eager to get vaccinated,” Reynolds said.

The hospital has since moved its clinic to a larger space at the Holiday Inn to administer more shots at once. Reynolds says the hotel is easier for people to get to, increasing the likelihood that people will show up. “Each week the allocations do continue to increase and that’s really a benefit that we have seen from the federal government,” he said.

A couple of hundred extra doses each week really adds up and Rutland County residents are signing up to get them seven days a week. “They know this is the way out of the pandemic. Rutland County somewhat has an older demographic than the rest of the state, but overall I think people just realize the utility of the vaccine,” Reynolds said.

As of Thursday, the Vermont Department of Health was reporting 34.3% of people in Rutland County have received at least one dose of the vaccine, or almost 17,000 people. In comparison, Essex County has the lowest percentage of people vaccinated in the state at only 22.7%.

“I’m very excited. I can’t wait,” said Deb MacDonald, a teacher in Bennington County who lives in Rutland County. “It’s going to allow us to go back to life, so I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to do it.”

“I was scared to get it at first. I said I wasn’t going to get it,” said Dawn Fortune of Rutland, who was also in line for a shot.

The Rutland health community has also created videos with local doctors to increase trust in the vaccine. “Scientists and doctors have been working very hard to make a safe and effective vaccine and it is our way out of this pandemic,” RRMC’s Dr. Zita Ficko said in one PSA.

Reynolds also says EMS and other local health care organizations are collaborating to ensure as many people as possible get vaccinated. “Rutland County has been very successful not only because of our efforts, but numerous, multiple agency efforts across the county,” he said

While hospital officials say it’s exciting to get your shot, some people have been arriving up to two hours ahead of schedule, causing some issues. They say it’s important to show up for the time you have signed up for.

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