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Vt. leads the way in COVID shots; state prepares to vaccinate kids 12-15

Published: May. 11, 2021 at 6:44 AM EDT|Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 6:23 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont is leading the nation in several key vaccination metrics-- the number of vaccines administered per 100,000 and the share of people with at least one shot. And with the CDC preparing to decide whether adolescents can get the shot, state leaders are considering moving up our July 4 reopening date.

Another 27,000 Vermonters could begin signing up for the shot as soon as Thursday morning if the CDC approves the Pfizer vaccine for kids 12-15.

The shots would be administered in schools by school nurses starting next Monday. Parental permission will be required and families must sign up online.

Montpelier High School is tentatively planning on standing up a clinic on May 23 for 12-to-15-year-olds. It’s one of about 40 schools across the state that will be administering the shots should the feds give the green light on Wednesday.

“Families with children in this age group will be eligible to go to any site that offers the Pfizer vaccine and all sites will be open to the public,” Vt. Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said.

In schools, the shot won’t be mandatory but it could be required if Pfizer receives full FDA approval in the months ahead, not just for emergency use.

To accommodate for the new age band, the state will buy 4,400 doses from the federal vaccine pool.

As summer approaches and a vaccine for kids under 12 remains to be seen, the state is launching a new COVID-19 testing program in summer camps.

“Like the school programs... our testing programs for day camps will be voluntary, free for families and camps, and conducted with the consent of parents and guardians,” Vt. Chief Prevention Officer Monica Hutt said.

However, vaccine uptake among 18-to-29-year-olds is still lagging. So the state is setting up more pop-up and walk-in clinics. And they’re bringing them to young people, with clinics on Burlington’s North Beach and in restaurants and other worksites.

“Our goal is to make the vaccine accessible enough that not receiving one will be an act of choice,” said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.

There is a walk-in clinic Tuesday at NVU-Johnson. And registration opened for a drive-thru clinic in Highgate at the AOT garage on May 13. There is a drive-thru clinic at the Lancaster, New Hampshire, fairgrounds on May 21. And there will be mobile clinics along Route 100 on Saturday.

The state also plans to have a clinic at the Church Street Marketplace. And more walk-in and drive-thru clinics are planned. Click here to find the full list of clinics or call 855-722-7878.

And as more people who actively want the shot have it, the health department is turning to trusted voices. They’ll begin giving vaccines to primary care doctors.

“They are the ones you trust regularly with your health and they are the ones you should turn to to give you the information about safety, side effects, vaccine type and more,” Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said.

Tuesday, Vermont hit 60% of the entire population with one shot well ahead of June 1, putting us two weeks ahead of schedule. The governor says if uptake continues to be high, they’ll consider moving up the July 4 reopening. More details on that to come this Friday.

The state estimates that 190 lives have been saved by the vaccination program.

THE NUMBERS

As of Tuesday, nearly 62% of the state’s population has been vaccinated. That’s 377,800 people. Some 104,600 people have received their first dose and 273,200 have gotten first and last doses.

Twelve counties saw a decrease in case counts last week, only Orleans and Franklin counties saw numbers go up.

Vermont health officials on Tuesday reported 52 new coronavirus cases for a total of 23,606. There have been a total of 251 deaths. The state’s percent positive seven-day average is 1%. A total of 385,897 people have been tested, and 21,611 have recovered.

Fourteen people are in the hospital, three in the ICU. Hospitalizations are down 17% over the last week and we now have the lowest hospitalization rate in the country.

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