MONTPELIER – On Tuesday, state officials announced that Vermont’s vaccination efforts are expanding to everyone age 65 and older beginning next week.

Registration for this fourth phase of the vaccine rollout begins at 8:15 am on Monday.

Vermont Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said there are approximately 42,000 Vermonters in this age group. He said people who qualify should head to the Vermont Department of Health’s vaccination website and set up an account ahead of time.

Anyone who is unable to make their appointment online, needs help, or who wants to speak with someone in a language other than English can call 855-722-7878.

Smith said the fifth phase of vaccination – everyone 16 to 64 with a medical condition that makes them at a high risk for COVID-19 complications or death – is likely to begin in the near future as well.

“Please do not contact your healthcare provider about eligibility, we will have more information to share next week,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, Governor Phil Scott announced another measure to loosen some restrictions on people who have gotten their shots. If you’ve been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks, you may now visit another household regardless of whether or not they’ve been vaccinated.

“To give an example, if your parents are fully vaccinated, you could go to their house for dinner or vice versa,” Scott said. “Or, if you’re a nurse who was vaccinated during Phase 1A, you could visit a friend even if they’re not vaccinated yet.

Scott noted that this new rule only applies to one household at a time.

“As we make important progress vaccinating those at greatest risk of death, we are able take these first small steps to reunite grandparents with their grandchildren and offer a narrow path forward for people to gather again,” Scott said. “I assure you these are just the first steps; we hope to continue to widen this path in the days and weeks ahead.”

Scott also responded to recent efforts in the Vermont Legislature to prepare a COVID-19 relief package as the state awaits additional federal assistance. Lawmakers are targeting programs for children, businesses and long-term healthcare investments. He said he’s encouraged, because it targets some of the pressure points he highlighted in his January budget address.

“They’ve added some, but I don’t see any showstoppers at this point and I think it’s great news for Vermont,” Scott said. “These are projects that can hit the ground running, shovels in the ground almost immediately, so this is great news and I applaud them for their work thus far.”

The package would be paid for by leftover federal cash and one-time money from the governor’s budget.