Vermonters 65 and older can register for the vaccine Monday, March 1

  • Paramedic Drew Hazelton, chief of Rescue Inc., draws up one of six doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for patients who receive home health care across Orange County and northern Windsor county before visiting his first patient in Bradford, Vt., Saturday, Feb., 20, 2021. From the time his needle punctures the vial, he has six hours to administer all the doses before they spoil. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Phyllis Nemhauser gets a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at her home in Bradford, Vt., on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. She got her dose from David Mannion and Drew Hazelton of Rescue Inc. in Brattleboro. (VtDigger - Glenn Russell)

VtDigger
Published: 2/23/2021 4:10:39 PM
Modified: 2/23/2021 4:10:39 PM

Two major developments in Vermont’s COVID-19 battle were announced Tuesday:

Vermonters age 65 and older can register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning at 8:15 a.m. Monday, March 1.

New rules for vaccinated Vermonters allow them to have two-household gatherings.

Vermonters age 65 and older will be able to make an appointment on the Department of Health’s vaccine registration website or through Kinney Drugs or Walgreens websites, state officials said at a press conference Tuesday. They can also call the Department of Health to make an appointment, but officials recommend using the website if possible to reduce the demand for the phone lines.

Mike Smith, secretary of the Agency of Human Services, said Vermonters can make an account on the Department of Health website right now, in advance of the registration process. Once registration opens on Monday, the people who are eligible can pick a time and place to receive their first dose of the vaccine.

Officials said about 42,000 Vermonters are between ages 65 and 69, the coming “age band” in the vaccine process.

The next group of people who will be eligible for the vaccine — Vermonters with underlying health conditions — should be able to register in the next few weeks, Smith said. That group will include roughly 75,000 people. He said those with health conditions should not contact their health provider at this point; the state will provide more information later on.

Gov. Phil Scott said the federal allocation to Vermont will continue to rise in the coming weeks, and the coming Johnson and Johnson vaccine could increase the vaccine supply even further.

To register for a vaccine appointment, visit healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine (preferred) or call 855-722-7878.

You will be asked to provide your name, date of birth, address, email (if available), phone number, and health insurance information (if available, but not required).

New rules for vaccinated Vermonters

People who have been fully vaccinated can gather with people of one other household at a time, regardless of whether people in that other household have been vaccinated, Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday.

That means someone who has received both doses of the vaccine can spend time with their non-vaccinated friends and loved ones. “If your parents are fully vaccinated, you can go to their house for dinner, or vice versa. Or if you’re a nurse who was vaccinated in Phase 1a, you can visit a friend, even if they’re not vaccinated yet,” Scott said.

That rule applies to only one household at a time, he said. The rule was adopted after the Centers for Disease Control said the COVID-19 vaccine likely prevents transmission of the virus, in addition to protecting the vaccinated person from getting a case of the virus.

The state also recently allowed vaccinated travelers to come in and out of Vermont without quarantining, and loosened restrictions around activities and visits in long-term care facilities.

Optimistic news for COVID-19 progress

The continued decline in COVID-19 cases, both statewide and at a national level, should lead to an optimistic forecast for a drop in cases going into the spring, officials said.

Vermont’s COVID-19 cases fell by 89, from 816 cases to 727 cases, in the past week, said Mike Pieciak, head of the Department of Financial Regulation. The state presentation said that Vermont’s “slow, gradual” case decline coincides with a slow decline in hospitalizations and deaths.

Pieciak said cases, hospitalizations and deaths are also falling at a national level. Cases have fallen 74%, hospitalizations have fallen 54% and deaths have fallen by 43% from their peak in January. “The light at the end of the tunnel has never appeared brighter,” he said.

But he also acknowledged the lingering toll of the virus, which has caused 500,000 deaths in less than a year. now ranks as one of the deadliest events in U.S. history, surpassing deaths from previous wars. And unfortunately, marching closer to the death toll from the 1918 pandemic as well, he said.

“The best way for all of us to honor those who have died is to protect ourselves and our families, and to follow the public health guidance and to step up and get vaccinated when it’s our turn,” he said.

About 91,000 Vermonters have been vaccinated, split about evenly between those who have received both doses and just one dose.

Dr. Mark Levine, head of the Department of Health, said the decline in COVID-19 cases could be attributed to several factors — the end of several outbreak-causing holiday periods, such as Halloween and Christmas; people doing a better job of following public health guidance; and rising immunity from the vaccine.

“This is why being vaccinated — like following our prevention efforts, wearing masks, keeping 6 feet apart, avoiding crowded places — is essential to ending this pandemic and getting back to normal,” he said.

Levine said the state had 87 new cases Tuesday and two new deaths, bringing the total deaths to 199. The Department of Health reports 36 people are currently hospitalized with the virus.




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