Vermont vaccine rollout shifts to age based eligibility

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

With the supply of the vaccine to combat Covid-19 in Vermont smaller and less reliable than anticipated, the administration of Gov. Phil Scott is changing its strategy for rolling it out. In what has been called Phase 1A, workers in health care, residents in long-term care facilities and first responders have been getting the shots so far. Going forward, eligibility will be by age.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Beginning on Monday, Jan. 25, Vermonters age 75 and older will be able to use a centralized system to make an appointment to get the vaccine, with vaccinations beginning two days laters.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Scott said that his administration would be “standing up” a call center for making vaccination appointments. But he also asked that Vermonters use the online portal rather than calling so the center won’t be swamped. Noting that the first groups may not be tech savvy enough to use the internet site, Scott asked that friends and relatives help older residents with making appointments.

Vaccinations of those 75 and older will begin on Thursday Jan. 27 with eligibility expanding to those 70 and older, then 65 and older because Scott said that those are the age groups that are in greatest danger of dying from the virus. There is no estimate how long rolling out to those ages will take and whether there will be enough vaccine available for the two injections needed to reach its highest efficacy. According to U.S. Census data, 20 percent of Vermont’s 624,000 residents are 65 years of age or older, which translates to 128,000 people requiring 256,000 doses.

“It’s true that some states have started with broader eligibility than ours,”  Scott said. “The problem is, without the supply, they’re not going to be able to vaccinate any more people — just create more frustration and confusion.”

“Over-promising is not the answer,” he added. “The logical approach is to manage the supply of the vaccine we’re receiving. And if we’re allotted more, we’ll scale up, which we hope is the case.”

More information on scheduling a shot will be released in the coming days and until then state Health Commissioner Mark Levine is asking Vermonters to be patient.

“Please help us by not calling or sending emails until we provide all the details,” said Levine. For ongoing information on the coronavirus vaccine check the Covid-19 vaccines page.

What to expect from the shot

Doug Friant, 59, is an active advanced EMT on the Londonderry Volunteer Rescue Squad, which deals with patients who may have Covid-19. He was eligible for the vaccine. He received his first dose on Friday, Dec. 18 and told The Telegraph that he had only a minor reaction that included a mild headache and a general malaise.

Friant gets dose number two. Photo provided

On Jan. 8, Friant got shot No. 2 and wondered if it was working. “I felt good when I went to bed, and even wondered if the vaccine was working because I have heard that the second dose causes a stronger reaction than the first.”

Friant said he woke up in the night with a mild fever and shaking chills.

“No fun at all,” said Friant. “But if that is what a bad case of Covid feels like, I was glad for the vaccine. By morning, after wrapping myself up in sweatshirt, sweatpants and blankets, and putting more wood in the stove, I was fine and my temperature was back to normal.”

By the following morning, Friant said he felt the way he did after the first shot. “All in all, the side effects from the second dose are not great, but certainly not bad enough to deter anyone from getting vaccinated. I feel great today, so the side effects, for me, were less than 36 hours.”


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  1. The idea is to get those who are at the greatest danger of dying from coronavirus vaccinated first. According to the state, those 75+ are at greater risk than those 70+. 70+ at greater risk than 65+ etc.

  2. Richard Koonz Jr. says:

    Why are many are many other states vaccinating 65+ and VT is not????