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Health

Gov. Scott opens vaccinations to Vermont educators, those with chronic medical conditions – WPTZ

With larger federal shipments of COVID-19 vaccines now arriving in Vermont and the recent approval of a third single-dose shot, Gov. Phil Scott announced the largest vaccination expansion yet. At his Tuesday briefing in Montpelier, Scott announced K-12 public and private school employees, early educators and child care workers can sign up or a shot starting Monday, March 8. State correctional officers and public safety employees who are not already eligible may get vaccinated starting Monday as well. And Vermonters between the ages of 16 and 64 with specific “high-risk” health conditions — approximately 75,000 people — are also eligible for the vaccine. The rollout will come in two separate phases. The first phase will begin with residents aged 55 and old on March 8, with a second phase for everyone else starting March 15. “These changes are focused on getting and keeping the public safety and education systems fully operational,” Scott said. “With an emphasis on the well-being of our kids.”The governor added that he’s optimistic the state is “on pace to be in a very good place” with vaccinations by late spring or early summer. The expanded eligibility comes one day after the launch of Vermont’s fourth vaccine distribution phase which opened registration to any resident 65 or older. More than half of all residents in that age group have already secured appointments for the vaccine. PUSH FOR IN-PERSON LEARNING The expansion supports the Scott administration’s continued push for the return to in-person classrooms. Last week, the governor cited a range of data suggesting many students now struggle with anxiety and loneliness. He said it’s essential students return to in-person learning as soon as possible.Vermont NEA, the state’s largest teachers union, is hailing the decision to allow teachers and school employees to be vaccinated. “Nobody wants to see students return to the state’s classrooms more than teachers, paraeducators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, school nurses and administrators,” the union wrote in a statement. “But, as we’ve said all along, this can only happen when it is demonstrably safe to do so.””Vaccinating school employees is a big step in the right direction,” the statement continued. Approximately 30% of schools in Vermont have already transitioned back to in-person education, according to state education leaders. Another 20% are still fully remote, with half falling in a “hybrid” system that utilizes both learning methods.As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 105,000 Vermonters have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, approximately 19.2% of the state’s goal of vaccinating all residents age 16 or older. At the current rate, one-third of Vermonters will be vaccinated by the end of March and all who want a shot will have one by August, according to Human Services Secretary Mike Smith.UPDATE ON VACCINATION SITESBeginning Wednesday, members of the Vermont National Guard will administer COVID-19 vaccines at the Doubletree Hotel in South Burlington. Appointments can be made through the Department of Health website or by calling the vaccine center at 855-722-7878. Vaccination efforts orchestrated by the Guard will expand to the Barre and Springfield areas next week. Walmart plans to start vaccinations this week through all six of its locations in the state. Appointments should be made through the standard health lines, not by calling stores directly. Walgreens will continue to offer vaccinations through the federal program they participate in. Kinney Drugs is expected to make approximately 1,000 doses of a vaccine available at Spaulding High School on March 7. Appointments can be made with Walgreens or Kinney Drugs directly if that is more convenient. While the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine has somewhat lower overall effectiveness than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, all three appear universally effective at preventing hospitalization and deaths. Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont’s Health Commissioner, said he would be happy to receive any of the three that have now received FDA approval, calling the trio of options “quite remarkable.” “I encourage you to take whichever vaccine is available to you and not get caught up in a numbers comparison game,” Levine said. “These are all effective and safe vaccines.”

With larger federal shipments of COVID-19 vaccines now arriving in Vermont and the recent approval of a third single-dose shot, Gov. Phil Scott announced the largest vaccination expansion yet.

At his Tuesday briefing in Montpelier, Scott announced K-12 public and private school employees, early educators and child care workers can sign up or a shot starting Monday, March 8. State correctional officers and public safety employees who are not already eligible may get vaccinated starting Monday as well.

And Vermonters between the ages of 16 and 64 with specific “high-risk” health conditions — approximately 75,000 people — are also eligible for the vaccine. The rollout will come in two separate phases. The first phase will begin with residents aged 55 and old on March 8, with a second phase for everyone else starting March 15.

“These changes are focused on getting and keeping the public safety and education systems fully operational,” Scott said. “With an emphasis on the well-being of our kids.”

The governor added that he’s optimistic the state is “on pace to be in a very good place” with vaccinations by late spring or early summer.

The expanded eligibility comes one day after the launch of Vermont’s fourth vaccine distribution phase which opened registration to any resident 65 or older. More than half of all residents in that age group have already secured appointments for the vaccine.

PUSH FOR IN-PERSON LEARNING

The expansion supports the Scott administration’s continued push for the return to in-person classrooms. Last week, the governor cited a range of data suggesting many students now struggle with anxiety and loneliness. He said it’s essential students return to in-person learning as soon as possible.

Vermont NEA, the state’s largest teachers union, is hailing the decision to allow teachers and school employees to be vaccinated.

“Nobody wants to see students return to the state’s classrooms more than teachers, paraeducators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, school nurses and administrators,” the union wrote in a statement. “But, as we’ve said all along, this can only happen when it is demonstrably safe to do so.”

“Vaccinating school employees is a big step in the right direction,” the statement continued.

Approximately 30% of schools in Vermont have already transitioned back to in-person education, according to state education leaders. Another 20% are still fully remote, with half falling in a “hybrid” system that utilizes both learning methods.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 105,000 Vermonters have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, approximately 19.2% of the state’s goal of vaccinating all residents age 16 or older.

At the current rate, one-third of Vermonters will be vaccinated by the end of March and all who want a shot will have one by August, according to Human Services Secretary Mike Smith.

UPDATE ON VACCINATION SITES

Beginning Wednesday, members of the Vermont National Guard will administer COVID-19 vaccines at the Doubletree Hotel in South Burlington. Appointments can be made through the Department of Health website or by calling the vaccine center at 855-722-7878.

Vaccination efforts orchestrated by the Guard will expand to the Barre and Springfield areas next week.

Walmart plans to start vaccinations this week through all six of its locations in the state. Appointments should be made through the standard health lines, not by calling stores directly.

Walgreens will continue to offer vaccinations through the federal program they participate in. Kinney Drugs is expected to make approximately 1,000 doses of a vaccine available at Spaulding High School on March 7.

Appointments can be made with Walgreens or Kinney Drugs directly if that is more convenient.

While the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine has somewhat lower overall effectiveness than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, all three appear universally effective at preventing hospitalization and deaths.

Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont’s Health Commissioner, said he would be happy to receive any of the three that have now received FDA approval, calling the trio of options “quite remarkable.”

“I encourage you to take whichever vaccine is available to you and not get caught up in a numbers comparison game,” Levine said. “These are all effective and safe vaccines.”

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