MONTPELIER — State officials will announce on Friday plans to open vaccination clinics to those who are 60 and older.
This week, states are anticipated to get more doses of all three federally authorized COVID-19 vaccines than in previous weeks. Starting in April, allocations nationwide are anticipated to continue to increase as time goes on.
“With these assurances on supply, I’ll also be able to outline the full schedule for all remaining age bands in order to accomplish making every Vermonter over the age of 16 eligible by the end of April,” Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday during his twice-weekly news conference dedicated to the pandemic.
Those plans will be presented at the news conference Friday. Scott expects to share more details about when COVID-19 restrictions will be eased within the next week or two.
With President Joe Biden’s announcement last week that he will direct states to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines by May 1, Scott said Vermont has a schedule mapped up to meet the goal and possibly exceed it depending on the supply provided by the federal government.
“It’s one thing to say everyone is eligible,” Scott said. “It’s quite another to have the supply to actually get shots in arms.”
Not everyone will be able to be fully vaccinated by May 1 but they’ll be eligible for a vaccination, Scott said. He expects everyone who wants to be vaccinated will be by the summer and the state will start returning to a semblance of normalcy by July 4.
Mike Smith, secretary of the Agency of Human Services, said one in four Vermonters have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
“We are seeing a slow and steady increase in vaccine manufacturing, and a decrease in deaths from the virus,” he said. “This is remarkable and really speaks to how we have been able to really stick together and move toward overcoming the most devastating public health crisis in more than 100 years.”
As of Tuesday, 152,800 Vermonters were vaccinated against COVID-19. Smith said 70,100 received their first doses and 82,700 received their first and last doses. Of those who are 16 and older with high risk conditions, 25,400 have made appointments.
Teachers, school staff and employees of regulated child care programs employees are being vaccinated.
Smith said vaccinations for incarcerated individuals with high-risk conditions will begin this week.
“We anticipate completing this group of approximately 185 eligible individuals in the next two to three weeks,” he said.
Also, CVS in Bennington will begin vaccinating Vermonters this week.
Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, said more than 84 percent of Vermonters who are 75 and older have started or completed vaccinations whereas the national rate is closer to 71 percent.
The figure for those who are 70 to 74 years old increased by 25 percent in Vermont, bringing the total to more than 80 percent. For Vermonters who are 65 to 69 years old, the number nearly doubled this week, totaling about 50 percent.
“Even though Vermont is one of the oldest states in terms of the percent of its population over 65, we are one of the leading states in terms of the vaccinated percentage among this population,” Pieciak said.
He said the state recorded 791 new COVID-19 cases last week, a reduction of more than 100 cases compared to the prior week.
In the last three weeks, long-term care facilities had six cases. Two active outbreaks in the facilities include one at Vermont Veterans’ Home in Bennington.
Pieciak called the outbreaks “considerably smaller” than others experienced earlier in the year and December.
So far, Vermont has attributed eight deaths to the virus this month, bringing the total number of COVID deaths in Vermont to 215.
“But we anticipate that this will end up being a step down in March compared to numbers we have seen in previous months,” Pieciak said.