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Staff members at the Vermont Veterans Home and other institutions could soon be required to become vaccinated against COVID-19.

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BENNINGTON — A Vermont Veterans Home resident who was reported hospitalized last week with COVID-19 was scheduled to return to the home Monday.

Meanwhile, officials said vaccination against the disease could be required in the near future for staff members at the Veterans Home and other institutions.

“We had one more positive resident on Friday,” Chief Executive Officer Melissa Jackson said; that resident remains at the Veterans Home, she added. “Our resident who was in the hospital is scheduled to return later today.”

Officials said last week that the home had reverted back to outdoor visitation only after 11 people had tested positive during ongoing regular COVID-19 testing.

Jackson said that seven staff members and four residents had tested positive since Aug. 3.

The resumption of indoor visits from family and friends will depend on test results, Jackson has said. If there are no positive results in tests set for Monday and Thursday, the home “should start to be able to allow indoor visits for vaccinated residents,” she said.

STAFF VACCINATIONS

Jackson added in an email Monday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “fully approved Pfizer [for its vaccine] this morning. We are hearing that an official regulation regarding staff vaccination is expected to be released towards the end of September.”

“I have shared that information with our staff and told them once we have the official regulation, we will share that information with them and discuss any impact it may have on specific individuals,” Jackson said.

Jackson said she was referring to President Biden’s announcement last week that vaccines will become a requirement for nursing home staff at institutions that participate in the Medicare- or Medicaid-funded programs.

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Vaccination requirements for staff at nursing homes and other facilities could also fall under a new state policy, which is expected to be announced soon.

STATE REQUIREMENTS

Asked whether Gov. Phil Scott would require vaccines for health care or similar workers in light of final federal approval for the Pfizer vaccine, the governor’s press secretary, Jason Maulucci, said in an email, “At the governor’s Aug. 10 press conference, he announced that the state would move forward with a staff vaccine requirement for certain state institutions, including the Veterans Home, correctional facilities and the state’s psychiatric hospital.”

“We are in the final stages of formalizing the policy, which should be announced within the next day or so,” he said.

Final approvals for other COVID-19 vaccines that have been allowed under an emergency approval during the pandemic are expected to follow.

The percentage of vaccinated direct care staff members at the Veterans Home is well-below Vermont’s vaccination rate, with 85.2 percent of eligible persons in the state having started the vaccination process.

In Bennington County, 80.6 percent have received at least one shot.

Jackson said last week that of forward-facing nursing staff, 56.45 percent of nursing aides and 47.82 percent of nurses were vaccinated for COVID-19.

Overall, 72.7 percent of the Veterans Home staff is vaccinated, she said.

All but five of the Veterans Home’s 103 residents are vaccinated.

Jim Therrien writes for Vermont News and Media. Email jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com