Vermont officials urges vaccination for younger adults as state closes in on goal to reopen

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MONTPELIER – As of Monday, 3,139 more eligible Vermonters need to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in order to reach Gov. Phil Scott’s 80 percent threshold to lift all restrictions.

With the vaccine rate at 79.4 percent, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine on Tuesday urged parents and caregivers of children over age 12 to get them vaccinated. Roughly 52 percent of the 12 to 15 age group have received their first dose, he said.

“I know the approval for this age group is more recent, but let me assure parents, caregivers, and these young Vermonters — clinical studies show the vaccines are safe and effective for 12- to 17-year-olds,” Dr. Levine said. “Any short-term side effects from the vaccine appear to be similar to what adults may experience. And we have the benefit of data from millions of adults that have now vaccinated.”  

When Scott’s goal was announced on May 21, roughly 28,000 Vermonters were asked to step up and help reach it. On average, about 1,500 have daily, and the governor had some advice for those who may be getting impatient.

“Go to your friends, neighbors and family, and get them to get their vaccinations so we can reach it sooner,” Scott said. “We all need goals in life, and this was one I thought was attainable, it still is, and if we reach it when I think we will, we’ll be two weeks ahead of schedule.”

Ahead of reaching that target, many Vermonters who have relied on emergency motel housing or the eviction moratorium during the pandemic to avoid homelessness are preparing for both measures to be lifted.

Vermont Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said it likely would’ve cost the state nearly $100 million in Fiscal Year 2022 to continue the motel emergency housing program at its current capacity of over 2,000 people. Some will remain eligible beyond July 1, including those with a disability or children.

“We’re offering stipends to people that are leaving the program to help them transition, and we’ve also expanded shelter capacity, which will further increase as the pandemic winds down,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, 30 days after the state of emergency is lifted, Vermont’s eviction moratorium will expire. Governor Scott said there will be some support available depending on the person’s situation.

“From what I’m hearing from some of the landlords, some people are taking advantage of this situation,” Scott said. “We’ll see how this all sugars off, but we will continue to do whatever we can for those who legitimately can’t pay their rent, and we’ll make sure they have someplace to go.”

The Vermont Department of Health wants you to know that walk-in clinics for all ages are being added every day, including businesses, state parks, and the ongoing Jazz Fest in Burlington. Learn where you can get a free vaccine near you without an appointment by visiting healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine.

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