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Vt. officials to open vaccinations to out-of-state students by April 30

(WCAX)
Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 5:34 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2021 at 7:06 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Out-of-state college students who do not qualify as Vermont residents will be eligible to sign up for a COVID vaccination by April 30, according to state officials. The governor’s office made the announcement late Wednesday, saying that based on the current allocation of doses, the state expects to extend vaccinations to students as well as second-home owners by the end of next month. The news comes as infections escalate in Vermont for people in the under 30 age group.

The spread of cases among young people is happening in high schools, college campuses, and across the community. “People are going to be partying no matter what, so we are at a higher risk,” said Anna Gardner, a University of Vermont student from New York.

Health officials say the surge in cases is driven by variants, social behavior, community spread, including on college campuses. But as Vermonters under 30 gear up to sign up for their shot in three weeks, Governor Phil Scott Tuesday said there were no immediate plans for out-of-state college students to partake. “At this point in time we want to make sure we take care of Vermonters first, as other states have done as well,” he said. In an effort to clarify their position Wednesday, the governor’s office said in a statement that Scott “has repeatedly said he hopes and expects to make vaccines available to all people in Vermont, including all college students.”

Data shows that as of 2019, more than 38,000 students attended 19 colleges across Vermont and about 60% of them are from out of state. These students are allowed to vote in Vermont’s elections and they’re counted in the state’s census. The state, for vaccination purposes, defines residency as anyone who moved to Vermont within the last six months, with the intention of becoming a resident. The Scott administration says this includes college students who intend to stay in Vermont this summer.

Many students we spoke to say they’re planning on getting vaccinated when they go home for April break. But getting home to New York or Massachusetts is a lot easier than Montana or California. “It would be nice if we were a higher priority, but we’re not the highest priority, I get that,” Gardner said.

Schools have been in communication with health officials in trying to figure out how to vaccinate students. There are no final plans yet, but a key factor, state leaders say, is bringing the vaccines to campus. Regardless of residency, young people are still at least a month away from getting a shot, and the number of cases -- and risks of potential medical complications -- is increasing.

“It is disappointing that cases are rising, but I think we’ve made it this far and we keep social distancing, wearing masks, being conscious of what we’re doing. It will end up working out,” said Reagan Lockhart, a UVM student from Massachusetts.

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Health officials urge young Vermonters to mask up

New Hampshire debates vaccines for out-of-state students

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