State leaders want more students to be vaccinated ahead of school

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 8:35 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont students will be back in school in just a few weeks, but concerns about the spread of the delta variant among unvaccinated children are growing.

The state is pushing for eligible students to get vaccinated before they return to school. Patsy Kelso, the Vermont state epidemiologist, says the vaccine is the best defense against the virus, including the delta variant, despite some breakthrough cases which she says is true with any vaccine.

She also says Vermont is doing well in the school-age child category. Around 64% of 12-to-15-year-olds are vaccinated and 72% of 16-and-17-year-olds. Kelso says that’s good, but they want more.

“With school starting in September, it is important to get the vaccine now so kids are most protected,” she said.

Kelso says the vaccine is also going to shape how the school year turns out for students and teachers. She says the state’s campaign has been responsible for curbing outbreaks, something that will allow students to stay in the building safely.

“When we do get back to school, even if we do see a case here and a case there, we are not anticipating as long as most students are vaccinated. We are not anticipating spread where we see lots of kids infected from one case, so the more kids we can get vaccinated, the less spread we will see and the fewer cases we will see,” said Kelso.

Kelso urges those who still have questions or concerns about the vaccine to contact the health department or their pediatrician.

“Get those questions answered. The health department wants to be here for parents so when they are ready to get the vaccine, it’s available,” said Kelso.

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