With Vermont vax rate approaching 84%, state pushes ahead with campaign
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont continues to lead the nation in vaccinations, with almost 84% of eligible Vermonters having had a least one shot, and 427,000 having completed their vaccination regimen. As the more contagious delta variant is prompting new restrictions in some states, Vermont officials are continuing to administer shots and have no immediate plans to clamp down.
Across the Green Mountains, summer looks relatively back to normal, with concerts, farmers markets, fairs, and parties back on.
David Mumley says he’s glad to be able to hit the gym and work out mask-free. “When we first started, I didn’t know what to expect -- obviously, none of us encountered anything like this -- but now, I’m much more comfortable,” Mumley said.
While it’s a big shift from last summer, the delta variant is spreading in low vaccination states, hospitalizations are rising, and the CDC is recommending masking in some areas.
Vermont reported 29 new cases Thursday and there are three people in the hospital. The majority of those cases have been among the unvaccinated. And while cases are forecast to increase next month, Vermont isn’t considering any new restrictions. Still, some who are vaccinated are choosing to mask up.
“I’m choosing to wear this out of caution, because I’m aware that there are breakthrough cases and I don’t want to take my chances and I don’t want to give it to anyone else,” said Lisa Audet of Barre. Many we spoke with say they do feel comfortable taking off their masks and keeping them off, even in crowded settings.
Even with a successful vaccination rate of 83.7% as of Thursday, officials estimate there are still 90,000 Vermonters that need to be reached. The state is now turning to micro clinics in more intimate settings, such as one at the Waterbury Farmers Market on Thursday, and also by turning to trusted health care providers to get the message out.
“We hope we can leverage that trust to encourage more patients to get the vaccine. We know these vaccines are safe and this is the way out of the pandemic,” said Dr. Jeremiah Eckhaus, primary care medical director at Central Vermont Medical Center. He says he’s answered lots of questions and has administered just a handful of vaccines, but that every shot counts. “People generally have concerns for valid reasons, whatever they may be, and then it’s a matter of educating people and uncovering where there may be misinformation and then replacing that with accurate information whenever we can.”
As President Biden is weighing requiring vaccines or masking and frequent testing for some 2-million federal employees, Vermont Governor Phil Scott this week said a similar approach isn’t needed here because so many Vermonters have the shot already.
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