Scott: Just 11,000 Vermonters need vaccine to meet goal to fully reopen state

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UPDATE: Three days after announcing that he will lift all restrictions when 80 percent of eligible residents receive at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, Gov. Phil Scott tweeted that another 4,687 people were vaccinated Sunday, bringing the statewide rate to 78 percent.

Gov. Phil Scott has given Vermonters a vaccination goal well within reach: once 80 percent of eligible residents receive at least one dose, the state will return to normal ahead of schedule.

“If we hit 80 percent, I’ll lift any remaining restrictions and mandates that day,” Scott said Friday.

The magic number, as of Friday morning, was 27,954 — the number of people who have not gotten at least one shot. Scott called on everyone including those who have already been vaccinated, to do their part in reaching his goal.

“It could be a simple as offering someone a ride, helping them find the closest vaccination site or telling them your story as to why you got yours,” he said.

He added that the people who could help accelerate Vermont’s timeline the most are those between the ages of 18 and 29. In that age group, only 47.4 percent have received their first dose of the vaccine.

“I understand why some might not have felt the urgency yet, but now’s your time to do the right thing,” Governor Scott said. “We’re counting on you to help lift restrictions early, including gathering sizes, masks, social distancing, the curfew at bars, restaurants, social clubs and the rest.”

Over the past seven days, Vermont is averaging roughly 2,500 first doses per day. Averaging just 1,500 per day would mean lifting restrictions by June 8. Currently, nearly 75 percent of eligible Vermonters have received at least one dose – more than 400,000 people.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said it may even be time to start worrying less about wasted doses if it ultimately means more people are covered.

“We must do everything we can to get them vaccinated, and that might mean opening a new vial even if not all of the doses can be used right away,” Dr. Levine said. “We need to seize the moment any time someone comes to us for a shot. It may be that person’s only chance to get vaccinated.”

Scott said if and when Vermont reaches his 80 percent threshold, one thing that won’t change is easy access to vaccines.

“We’re going to continue to set up clinics, advocate for people to get their vaccination, and continue to try and meet them where they are, and that includes the Northeast Kingdom,” Governor Scott said. “This isn’t over.”

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