Scott says 5% of unvaccinated Vermonters are ‘the problem’

Vermont Governor Phil Scott Tuesday took aim at the 40,000 unvaccinated Vermonters with one of his most forceful warnings yet.
Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 9:15 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 15, 2021 at 6:20 AM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Governor Phil Scott Tuesday took aim at the 40,000 unvaccinated Vermonters with one of his most forceful warnings yet.

“If you’re still unvaccinated, let me be clear -- you’ll be infected sooner or later, it’s just a matter of time,” Scott said.

Data shows that 5% of adults who are still not vaccinated account for 75% of hospitalizations and up to 90% of those in intensive care. Officials say those unvaccinated Vermonters are 30 times more likely to end up in the hospital than those who are vaccinated and boosted and 34 times more likely to die.

State health officials say the omicron variant has not yet been confirmed in Vermont yet, but with cases detected in all neighboring states, it’s a question of “when not if.” The governor said the onset of the variant has unfortunately made it clear that the pandemic will not end anytime soon. “COVID will be a part of our lives for some time,” Scott said. Meanwhile, the delta variant continues to spread primarily in places where people are gathering for more than 15 minutes, including bars, clubs, and restaurants. Some of those establishments require vaccines for entry and the governor said he would like to see that number increase.

“The hundreds of thousands of people who did the right thing and therefore are not the problem should not be punished because of those who chose not to protect themselves,” Scott said.

DFR Commissioner Mike Pieciak says the latest forecast modeling shows the Thanksgiving surge appears to be receding. Vermont cases were down 15% over the last week. Rutland, Bennington, and Windsor Counties have seen the most active number of cases. He says the upcoming Christmas holidays will likely lead to another increase in cases over the coming weeks.

State health officials say the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ will soon include booster shots. Vermont continues to lead the nation in booster uptake but 18 to 20-year-olds still are lagging. “We need to be well above the 50% threshold with delta and everything we know about it, and with omicron on the horizon,” said Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine. “You are not fully protected until you’ve gotten that booster.”

People we spoke with say getting a booster was simple. “I got my booster shot not too long ago and I got my flu shot, but I don’t have my freedom yet,” said Allyssen Mashtare of Montpelier.

“It’s part of what we have to do at this point in time, not only to protect our loved ones but to protect other people in our communities,” said Dale Trombley of Montpelier.

Education Secretary Dan French says the success of vaccinations among students is showing major dividends, especially at the high school level, where most schools have been able to avoid going to hybrid classes. He says as vaccination rates among elementary students increase, he expects to see similar results. He said vaccination and testing will remain the “cornerstone” of the agency’s strategy. Masking guidance in schools was set to expire on January 18. French says that guidance will continue to evolve post-holidays.

As of Tuesday, Vermont health officials reported 237 new coronavirus cases for a total of 56,317. There have been a total of 436 deaths. The state’s percent positive seven-day average is 4.6%. A total of 559,267 people have been tested, and 45,379 have recovered.

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