MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) The governor has already said we're not waiting for a vaccine to reopen Vermont's economy to 100%. But Monday we learned the state is preparing to distribute a vaccine when it does finally become available. Our Cat Viglienzoni found out why this one is moving so quickly.
"I have confidence that they'll come up with something," said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.
Scott said he believes a vaccine against COVID-19 will be available. Already, a few are in later phases of testing getting ready for large trials.
"You never see things go that fast," Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said.
Levine said he's optimistic, too. He says the state is already preparing for when a vaccine hits the market. A working group is figuring out the supply chain logistics to make sure that Vermont has the needles, syringes, refrigeration and other logistics taken care of.
"We don't want this to turn out like PPE did in March for the country, or testing turned out in March for the country. If there's a vaccine and it works, we want people to benefit from it. And by the way, we want Vermont to get as much of it as we can early on," Levine said.
"They are moving this along more rapidly than any other vaccine in history," said Dr. Beth Kirkpatrick of the UVM Larner College of Medicine.
Kirkpatrick is an infectious disease doctor and chair of the microbiology department at the UVM Larner College of Medicine. She says there will be between 60-120 vaccines in testing by end of the year. The U.S. government is pumping money into pharma to find a fix. I asked her if the race for a cure is moving too fast.
"I don't think the science is risky. I think a lot of the bureaucracy is being stripped away," she said.
She says there are a few things you should know. There will likely be multiple vaccines. And because this virus is so new, we'll learn about how well it works over time.
"I would be surprised if there was lifelong protection, I would be very surprised. I think it's more likely you'll get full protection for a shorter amount of time, and that you'll have partial protection for longer than that," Kirkpatrick said.
Given how fast the vaccine is being developed, I wanted to know if people around here would feel comfortable getting it when it came out. So we asked.
"Yes, I would," said Susan Fayette of South Burlington. "Just to protect myself and my family from the infection."
"Likely. Probably. If it worked and it was safe," said Meaghan Hickey of Winooski.
"Absolutely! If they'll give it to 82-year-olds, I'm first in line," said Margaret McAvoy of Milton. "I just want to stay safe and alive, maybe."
They'll have a while to wait. Levine says we're unlikely to see one before Thanksgiving. And Dr. Kirkpatrick says even when we do get one, not everyone will be able to get it at once. It will likely go to the most vulnerable first.