Vt. BIPOC advocates push to lift all vaccination age restrictions

Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 12:31 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The state of Vermont is making sure Black, Indigenous, and people of color are prioritized for the COVID vaccine based on data that show that population has been disproportionately impacted by the virus. Now, advocates are pushing to lift all age restrictions for that community.

The CDC says there are a number of underlying health and social inequities that put BIPOC communities at an increased risk. They face barriers in finding affordable housing, which forces them to live in crowded homes with a lack of access to reliable transportation. They tend to have less access to quality health care. And they include many essential workers who come in contact with the public on a daily basis and can’t work from home.

Due to these disparities, the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance sent a letter to Gov. Phil Scott last month, asking them to prioritize BIPOC in the vaccine rollout. This week, the Health Department opened up two BIPOC vaccination clinics, one in Burlington and the other in Brattleboro. To get a shot, you must live with someone who is 65 years old or older, or 16 years old with a high-risk condition such as pregnancy, sickle cell disease, kidney disease, or cancer.

The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance is now pushing for the state to lift all criteria and let all BIPOC get the shot. “What we’re asking the governor to do is to place, as a priority, the BIPOC community, for vaccinations. Period. Lift all of the other restrictions. Let’s go ahead and get the work done that needs to happen,” said Mark Hughes, executive director of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance.

Data also shows that while more than 25% of non-Hispanic white Vermonters have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, only 15% of BIPOC Vermonters have. State officials said earlier this week that they plan to ramp up outreach to these communities.

Vermont officials on Friday morning are expected to release a schedule for the rest of the vaccine rollout in the coming weeks.

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