Covid-19 updates, Featured, State News

If vaccinated, be mask-free

Vermont now allows the fully vaccinated to go maskless indoors and outdoors, state expects full reopening before July 4 target

By Polly Mikula

Vermont continues to lead the nation in vaccinations, state officials reiterated at the press conferences, Friday, May 14 and Tuesday, May 18. 

“We continue to have the highest rates in the country for vaccinations and continue to have thousands of Vermonters starting the vaccination process on a daily basis,” said Commissioner of Financial Regulation Michael Pieciak. 

“Vaccination rates are the most important because that influences all other metrics,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “Our rates are not only good but they are leading the nation and they continue to improve.”

As of Tuesday, 393,700 Vermonters have been vaccinated (65.2% of the total population and 73.8% of the eligible population 12-plus), with 97,700 receiving their first dose and 296,000 receiving their first and last dose, according to Mike Smith, secretary of the Agency of Human Services.

On May 13, the first day that 12-15- year-olds were eligible to be vaccinated, 6,300 signed up. As of Tuesday, May 18, 9,000 had made appointments. The Pfizer vaccine is currently the only vaccine approved for that age group. There are about 27,000 Vermonters aged 12-15.

Because of its high vaccination numbers, the state is also beating its own projections and is ahead of the projected thresholds set forth in the Vermont Forward Plan. Friday, Governor Phil Scott announced that the state would move into Step 3 two weeks early.  

In Step 3 testing or quarantining is no longer required for travel and gathering sizes grow to 300 unvaccinated people indoors (one unvaccinated person per 50 square feet) and 900 outdoors. There is no limit to gathering sizes for vaccinated people.

Additionally, following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the governor signed an executive order lifting the state’s masking and physical distancing requirements for fully vaccinated individuals in Vermont. (Fully vaccinated means two weeks after the final dose of vaccine.) 

“Today marks a major step forward in our efforts to end this pandemic and get back to doing more of the things we’ve missed over the past 14 months,” said Governor Scott, Friday. “Vermont has led the nation in many ways throughout the pandemic, including our vaccination efforts. This puts us in the best position in the nation to safely take these steps based on the CDC guidance.”

“We have been eagerly awaiting this, and know that it is based on current science, research and data,” said Levine. “This guidance makes sense for Vermont, because as thousands more Vermonters become fully vaccinated each day, life can, and should, begin to look normal again.”

As of Tuesday, May 18, the state also announced that it will no longer have a residency requirement for vaccinations. Anyone visiting Vermont can now get vaccinated here, too. State officials hope anyone who has yet to be vaccinated will now step up.

“Your shot is safe, easy and effective,” said Dr. Levine. “So, whether you prefer to make an appointment, go to a walk-in or mobile clinic, a partner pharmacy or any of the special vaccination events happening around the state, go to or call 855-722-7878 to find a vaccination opportunity near you.”

Walk-in appointments

In an effort to make vaccine appointments easy and accessible to all, the state is setting up vaccination sites throughout Vermont, including many walk-in clinics where vaccines are available without an appointment while the supplies last.

On Tuesday, May 18, a walk-in clinic was held at Rutland High School from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. offering the Pfizer vaccine. 

Upcoming local walk-in clinics will be held:

  • May19 at Mount Ascutney Hospital 9-11:30 a.m. and 2-3 p.m. Location: 289 County Rd., Professional Building, Lower Level. Offering Moderna (dose 1).
  • May 19 at the Rutland Holiday Inn 4-6 p.m. Location: 476 Holiday Rd. Offering Pfizer (dose 1).
  • May 21 at Woodstock Union Middle/High School 12-4 p.m.  Offering Pfizer (dose 1).
  • May 22 at the Rutland Holiday Inn 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Location: 476 Holiday Rd. Offering Pfizer (dose 1).
  • May 23 at the Rutland Holiday Inn 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Location: 476 Holiday Rd. Offering Pfizer (dose 1).

Unmasking details

Masking and physical distancing for fully vaccinated Vermonters — except in limited circumstances like in schools, on public transportation, healthcare settings, long term care facilities, prisons, etc. — is no longer required, indoors or outdoors. The mandate remains in place for those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, including children who are not yet eligible for a vaccine. 

Consistent with previous steps forward, businesses and municipalities can implement stricter guidance, if they choose.

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