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As US COVID cases rise, health officials say 83.2% Vt. vax rate offers protection

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 9:45 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2021 at 4:16 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Coronavirus cases are slightly ticking up in Vermont, but state officials say the state’s high vaccination rate is keeping the virus and hospitalizations at bay.

Vermont health officials say 83.2% of Vermonters have now had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, with 2,258 having had the vaccine in the last week. The state continues to ranks as the highest in the nation, but it comes as case numbers are growing in the Northeast, including Vermont.

But compared to other states with low vaccination rates including Arkansas, Missouri, and Florida, New England’s vaccination rate is much higher. “In the Northeast, where we have the highest vaccination rates, we continue to be well protected,” said DFR Commissioner Mike Pieciak.

Pieciak says the infections are driven by the spread of the more transmissible delta variant in regions with low vaccination rates and in countries without access to the vaccine. He says hospitalizations and deaths in Vermont remain low. “We continue to see that cases remain low in the 60 and older population -- the population that is most at risk of COVID-19 -- but also the population that is the most protected against the virus,” he said.

Health officials are seeing some so-called “breakthrough cases” among people who have been vaccinated but estimate there’s about a 7 in 10,000 chance. “While the proportion of cases among the vaccinated population has increased over the last few months, we’re seeing the people who become cases but have been vaccinated are not likely to get very sick,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

Since we have such high vaccination rates, Governor Phil Scott says community spread remains low, and that protects the youngest Vermonters who are not yet eligible for the shot. “The best way for us to protect them is for us to continue to vaccinate the eligible, the 16.8% that are still un-vaccinated,” he said.

The state continues to offer vaccines at free, walk-in clinics around the state.

As of Tuesday, Vermont health officials reported 11 new coronavirus cases for a total of 24,590. There have been a total of 259 deaths. The state’s percent positive seven-day average is 1.1%. A total of 409,357 people have been tested, and 24,149 have recovered.

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