By Erin Petenko/VTDigger
Health Commissioner Mark Levine told Vermonters on Tuesday, July 6, that the best way to create a wall of protection against Covid-19 this fall and winter is to get vaccinated — and to talk to their family members about getting the vaccine, too.
Roughly 82.4% of Vermonters ages 12 and older have started the vaccination process. But Levine is still concerned about the remaining 18%.
“If you are a parent or a grandparent of someone who is not vaccinated … have a conversation with them, but don’t take [your] role as having to convince them,” he said at Gov. Phil Scott’s weekly press conference.
Instead, Levine said, you should “listen in an empathetic and nonjudgmental way” to their reasons for not yet getting the vaccine. Make sure they’re consulting reliable sources and ask them if they’ve talked with their health care provider.
Vermonters could help their loved ones to find clinics or pharmacies that offer the vaccine and provide transportation or childcare if they need it, he said.
Officials estimate that fewer than 5% of unvaccinated Vermonters are truly resistant to getting vaccinated, Levine said. Most fall in the “wait-and-see” category or haven’t yet lined up an appointment for various reasons.
Levine said state officials were getting “phone calls and correspondence” asking them to share “secrets to their success.”
Scott said Vermont’s high vaccination rate provided strong protection against the highly transmissible Delta variant that now makes up half of all new Covid-19 cases in the country. “It’s like you’ve set up this barrier around Vermont,” he said.
“If you’re vaccinated and you’re in Vermont, there’s not much transmission in the community. … I don’t believe that’s going to change unless there’s another variant of some sort that is stronger, and the vaccine’s not effective against that,” he said.
Vermont officials are eager to see other states and countries pick up their vaccination rates, he said, to prevent the virus from mutating into something that can overcome vaccines.