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Striving for 80%: Offering incentives to get more Vermonters vaccinated

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 5:36 PM EDT
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont needs just a few thousand more people to get vaccinated against COVID so the state can reopen. And the state and employers are teaming up on new incentives.

At the Edge Sports and Fitness in Williston, they offered a free month of membership for those who get the shot.

The state is closing in on its 80% goal with vaccine clinics employers can set up through the state. The one at the Edge was coordinated through the health department and Shaw’s.

“We’ve had a lot of restrictions along with everyone else. It’s been a tough fight back. It’s good to see more people vaccinated. It certainly has allowed more people to be confident and come back to the club once they’ve been vaccinated and that’s great to see,” said Mike Feitelberg, the CEO of the Edge.

Clinics like these popping up with no appointment necessary near places of work are the state’s latest strategy to reach everyone. People like Jake Lindberg of Milton, who just doesn’t have the time to get to a clinic.

“I work constantly weekdays, weekend I do side work. Don’t get home until seven or eight at night and by that time, I gotta get up at five,” Lindberg said.

As a bonus, the Edge is also offering a free month of membership with every shot, in part aimed at younger Vermonters who are still lagging behind in vaccination rates.

So far, only 52% of 18-to-29-year-olds have the shot. Compare that to 65% of 16- and 17-year-olds and 73% of those 30-39.

“The more we can protect everyone else, even though young people may not be as at risk of everyone else, I think it’s still a good obligation for young people to do,” said Joshua Phillips of South Burlington.

As vaccine rates incline, the virus is on the decline.

The state no longer reports case data on the weekend.

Those getting the shot are rallying around the race to hit 80%.

“I miss going to a bar, playing cornhole with my friends, want to be able to give friends hugs and stuff,” Lindberg said.

For staff at the gym, seeing the battle of the final leg of the pandemic play out in their lobby after bearing significant health restrictions is surreal.

“To believe that here we are just a few months later doing vaccinations in the lobby of the club is amazing. We’re really happy to do it,” Feitelberg said.

The health department is calling on other employers who want to set up a clinic in their businesses to reach out.

The health department on Monday announced several more clinics planned this week. All of them are free and no appointments are necessary.

And you can still make appointments at state clinics and pharmacies if you prefer.

VACCINE CLINICS:

Tuesday, June 8

• Northwestern Medical Center, Congress and Main, 97 North Main St., St. Albans (9:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.)

• Tres Amigos, 1190 Mountain Rd., Stowe (10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.)

• North Country Hospital, 189 Prouty Dr., Newport (11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.)

• Barton Fairground Drive-Through, 278 Roaring Brook Rd., Barton (4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.)

Wednesday, June 9

• Northwestern Medical Center, Congress and Main, 97 North Main St., St. Albans (9:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.)

• Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce, 57 Pond St., Ludlow (10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.)

• Nolato GW, Inc., 272 Waterman Rd., Royalton (12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.)

• American Legion Post 27, with Porter Medical Center (PMC), 49 Wilson Road, Middlebury (9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)

Thursday, June 10

• Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, 1315 Hospital Dr., St. Johnsbury (8:30 a.m. –

• 11:00 a.m.)

• Northwestern Medical Center, Congress and Main, 97 North Main St., St. Albans (9:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.)

• Smugglers’ Notch Resort, 4323 Vt Route 108 South, Cambridge (12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.)

• Waterbury Farmers Market, 2 Rotarian Place, Waterbury (4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.)

In addition to these pop-up events, most pharmacies around Vermont offer walk-in vaccinations. Ask your local pharmacist today or simply walk into a CVS, Hannaford Food and Drug, Walmart, Walgreens, Price Chopper/Market 32, Rite Aid, Shaws Supermarket, or Costco.

Click here for more on the state’s COVID vaccine clinics.

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