State officials concerned about federal allocation of vaccine

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Thursday marked the 100th COVID-19 briefing by Governor Phil Scott and Vermont officials since the start of the pandemic and the final press conference before the beginning of the new year.

“The turn of the calendar page doesn’t necessarily mean immediate change, but as a symbol, I believe we can look forward to 2021 with optimism,” said Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont Health Commissioner.

“But let’s also understand the risks remain, and as this continues to attack our long-term care facilities it’s important that we stay vigilant,” said Gov. Scott.

The 14,000 Vermonters already vaccinated includes residents at 21 of the state’s 37 long-term care facilities. Secretary Mike Smith says he’s concerned about allocation from the federal government. The state was expecting 5,850 doses of the Pfizer vaccine but that’s been cut to 3,900 doses next week. Smith says they’ll also receive 100 fewer doses of the Moderna vaccine which could impact Vermont’s progress.

“We are looking to our federal partners and saying ‘what is going on here’ and what is precipitating these wild swings,” Smith said. You can’t plan with these kinds of wild swings and it’s going to have an impact on us down the road.”

Smith says the state will continue to prioritize vaccination by age groups. Testing of school staff will also continue in the new year with about 40% of educators participating–that’s about 6,000 tested weekly. Secretary Dan French says the passivity rate remains very low, at just .26%.

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