Despite technical difficulties with the state’s phone lines Monday, Vermont registered more than 700 people ages 75 and older for Pfizer’s version of the COVID-19 booster vaccine.
“Once our phone was working it actually went very well. And I actually heard from our call center director that they had very minimal wait times — less than five minutes throughout the day,” said Deputy Health Commissioner Kelly Dougherty.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has authorized the booster shot for people who have received the two-dose Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago. That includes people 65 and older as well as people over 18 who have underlying medical conditions, who work in high-risk settings and who live in high-risk settings.
The health department made 737 appointments at state-sponsored clinics on Monday, Dougherty sid, adding that the number will likely be higher once pharmacies that deliver the vaccine are factored in. More than 1,000 people who are 80 and older have made appointments since they became eligible for the booster last week, she said.
Organizations distributing the boosters said they’re ready for the rollout. Mark Podgwaite, executive director of Waterbury Ambulance, and his colleagues set up at the Agency of Transportation building in Berlin as soon as they had the green light.
“We were given the word on Thursday that it was a go for Monday, so we had basically three days to get this place set up and ready to roll,” said Podgwaite.
Dougherty says there will be up to 18 boosters clinics available this week and up to 11 on the weekends. Dougherty says the state is busy promoting the vaccine to those elgible fot eh booster, as well as anyone ages 12 and older who remain unvaccinated.
“You know, there is a lot of nuanced messaging happening right now,” she said, “but we’re really just trying to get the word out as best we can so we can continue to be one of the highest vaccinated states in the country.”
Booster shots will be available to those 70 and older on Wednesday. On Friday, people 65 and older and 18- to 64-year-olds with chronic health conditions will be eligible.
Dougherty said several state agencies experienced problems with the phone system Monday. The Health Department notified followers on social media shortly after 10 a.m., but the problem was fixed within the hour.