Vermont OKs shots for out-of-state workers

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    Matt Van Alstyne, of Perkinsville, left, drove to the Tunbrdige Fairgrounds in Tunbridge, Vt., during a slow day at work to receive a Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccination from Spc. Andria Castine-Kozma of the Vermont National Guard, right, after hearing from a friend that the vaccines were available with no appointment on Friday, May 7, 2021. Van Alstyne, who works for a White River Junction wood stove retailer and said he is often in customers' homes, hopes being inoculated will set them at ease, but he also has friends that do not want to get the shot. "I didn't really either, but it's going to inhibit things I want to do," he said. Only 84 of the 425 doses available at the clinic were taken by appointment with the remainder available on a drop-in basis. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

VtDigger
Published: 5/7/2021 9:40:58 PM
Modified: 5/7/2021 9:40:54 PM

Any out-of-stater who works in Vermont is eligible to get vaccinated in the state, regardless of their profession, officials announced at a press conference Friday.

The new eligibility is an expansion of previous eligibility that allowed out-of-state college students and part-time Vermonters to get the vaccine. Out-of-staters who work in Vermont can either register on the state’s website and set an appointment, or attend a walk-in vaccination clinic, said Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith.

Meanwhile, the state is preparing for children from 12 to 15 years old to begin vaccinations after the Federal Drug Administration approves the Pfizer vaccine for that age group, which could happen as soon as next week.

Once Vermont gets approval, it plans to open vaccination to this age group “almost immediately,” Levine said. That will include vaccine sites at schools to make it more convenient for students, Smith said.

Vermont is offering more walk-in vaccine clinics than ever as it aims to increase the convenience of getting vaccinated. Among the walk-in clinics offered are two this Saturday at speedways, Devil’s Bowl in West Haven and Bear Ridge in Bradford, which will offer free admission to the race to anyone who gets the shot there.

There are also clinics at college campuses, Essex County mobile clinics with EMS services, and at food distribution sites throughout the state, Smith said.

“If there is a Vermonter who has not been vaccinated, but has been waiting for a convenient time, location or more interesting experience, or a walk-in or drive-through opportunity, or just doesn’t want to be bothered with scheduling and planning — well, it’s your turn to shine,” said Health Department head Mark Levine. “Your moment has arrived.”

Levine cautioned that if someone has received a two-dose vaccine, the Pfizer or Moderna, the person must make sure your second dose is from the same manufacturer. Walk-in clinics offer all three options, including the one-dose Johnson & Johnson.

Levine said keeping up the pace of vaccinations was essential to the state’s reopening plan. Vermont expects to loosen restrictions further starting June 1 if it meets its target of 70 to 85% of Vermonters 16 and over with at least one dose.

Right now, Vermont’s progress stands at 66% of people 16 and over.

“Getting vaccinated means we get to embrace many of those things once again — pun intended — hugs, school, hangouts, sports, dinner parties, live music,” Levine said. “It may take some getting used to at first. But we cannot only have them, we can actually enjoy them without the stress and anxiety we’ve lived with for so long.”

Student testing program planned

The Agency of Education is kicking off a pilot program of student testing this spring and summer, said agency secretary Dan French.

The initial testing program will target 6,300 students ages 8 and up in different schools in Burlington School District, Grand Isle Supervisory Union, Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union in Hardwick, Caledonia Central Supervisory Union in Danville, Two River Supervisory Union in Ludlow, and the Southwest Vermont Technical Center in Bennington.

The testing is voluntary and requires parental permission, French said. If the pilot program is successful, the AOE plans to continue and expand it in the fall.

French said the agency had recently clarified guidelines on outdoor spring sports. Low-contact spring sports such as tennis, track and field, baseball, softball do not require masking.

Moderate- or high-contact sports, such as lacrosse or Ultimate Frisbee, still require masking. Spectators don’t need to wear a mask outdoors if they are socially distanced, but they do indoors either way, French said.




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