Coronavirus updates, Featured

Vermont begins vaccinations by age group

The first round of shots for Vermonters age 75+ begin Monday, Jan. 25

Staff report

State officials announced that registration for the Covid-19 vaccine for people who are 75 years and older will begin on Jan. 25. There are estimated to be about 49,000 Vermonters in that age group category.

“Now that Vermonters know more about our plans, we are anticipating plenty of interest and questions,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, said Friday, Jan. 15. “This will be good news for many people, but I again need to ask for your patience and help as we finalize our systems so they can be rolled out as smoothly as possible.”

After the 75+ group, the state will vaccinate 70+ then 65+ age groups. Younger Vermonters with  certain high-risk health conditions will be able to receive the vaccine once vaccinations of the 75+ age groups are complete. These are medical conditions that put people at increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19 as identified by the CDC. Severe illness is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death. These are:

Current cancer

Chronic kidney disease

COPD, also called emphysema

Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies

Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)

Severe obesity

Pregnancy

Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Down Syndrome

Sickle cell disease

“We are prioritizing those that are most likely to die if they contract Covid,” said Gov. Phil Scott at Tuesday’s press conference, Jan. 19. “Perserving life must be our top priority.”

Vermont ranks in the top 10 states in the nation for the rates its administering the vaccine and is the second best in the Northeast by doeses of vaccine administered per 100 residents.

Dr. Levine also emphasized the state’s commitment to addressing the historical and current factors that contribute to health disparities.

“There is no question that members of certain demographic groups have been disproportionately overrepresented in Vermont’s Covid-19 infection, hospitalization, and death rates,” he said. “This means we must prioritize these groups to reach our goal of preserving life and protecting those most at risk.

“We have been working with community leaders, we have listened, and we are committed to continuing to right past wrongs. We will ensure that this community gets the support they need, in the language they need, in the locations they need, to make informed choices and to get scheduled for vaccinations,” Dr. Levine said.

Once activated, Vermonters will be able to register online, or by calling a phone number. The website and phone number will be announced “in the coming days” said Scott, Tuesday — in addition to other details. Levine requested Vermonters not to call health care providers or hospitals or any other Health Department phone number for vaccine appointments.

“By waiting until we have more details to share, you’ll be helping our staff focus on the difficult and complex work to prepare for this next phase,” Dr. Levine said.

While waiting for vaccine to become more widely available, Vermonters should keep up prevention practices, including physical distancing, mask-wearing, handwashing, staying home when sick and getting tested. There are now more than 15 regular  testing locations throughout the state, and more of them are now open daily. Many sites now allow you to take a sample yourself opn-site, using a short swab in your nose. It’s quick, easy and free, state officials stated.

Register for a test by visiting healthvermont.gov/Covid19testing. If you have symptoms of Covid-19, please contact your health care provider so they can refer you for testing. If you don’t have a provider, you can call 2-1-1.

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