Governor Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, detailed the state’s framework for distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine, at the press conference Friday, Oct. 23. The plan will be ready for once a vaccine is produced and distributed to the state.
The state has submitted responses to a series of questions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), laying out the framework for vaccine distribution and preparedness. The federal government, which is responsible for nationwide distribution of vaccines, still needs to provide details on many logistics surrounding a potential vaccine, and this interim Covid-19 vaccination plan will evolve as new information comes forward.
“With so many unknowns, this is difficult work,” said Gov. Scott. “But we have a strong infrastructure in place, and we have been working with a talented team of world class experts for months to learn from past experiences and to further strengthen our systems. The bottom line is: We will be ready.”
A Covid-19 vaccination planning team was convened in July to begin this process and is responsible for fully developing the vaccination plan. This team includes experts from the Dept. of Health, Vermont Emergency Management, the University of Vermont Medical Center (Vaccine Testing Center and Pediatrics) and the Agency of Digital Services.
“Having a safe and effective vaccine is an essential tool to stop the virus from spreading. We see every day what it means to have a highly infectious disease spread without a vaccine available to keep it in check. I encourage everyone to get vaccinated when it’s available to them,” said Levine. “We are all ready for this next step toward ending the pandemic. But let me be clear – safety comes first. Any vaccine must meet all FDA safety standards and be recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, free from politics.”
While the state will be prepared for any amount of vaccine, it is expected the initial supply of Covid-19 vaccine will likely be limited. Accordingly, vaccination efforts will need to prioritize groups that are most critical to the response. The state’s interim plan lays out a phased approach:
Phase 1a “Jumpstart Phase”
High-risk health workers
People of all ages with comorbid and underlying conditions that put them at significantly higher risk
Older adults living in congregate or overcrowded settings
K-12 teachers and school staff and childcare workers
Critical workers in high risk settings – workers who are essential to the functioning of society and at substantially higher risk of exposure
People of all ages with comorbid and underlying conditions that put them at moderately higher risk
People in homeless shelters or group homes for individuals with disabilities, including serious mental illness, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and physical disabilities or in recovery, and staff who work in such settings
Staff, workers and occupants in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities
All older adults
Workers in industries and occupations important to the functioning of society and at increased risk of exposure not included in Phase 1 or 2
Everyone residing in the United States who did not have access to the vaccine in previous phases
“This is an enormous undertaking,” said Dr. Levine. “But one thing is clear, in Vermont, we’ll be ready for the vaccine before the vaccine is ready for us.”
To view the full proposal submitted to the CDC, visit healthvermont.gov/Covid19-vaccine.