Weekly Covid Update: State of emergency extended; vaxx registration begins for 16 & up

Those 16 to 18 can begin to sign up for their Covid-19 vaccines on Saturday morning. Photo by Steven Cornfield on Unsplash

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Even as Vermont has reached a significant milestone — more than half of all Vermonters 16 and up have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine — Gov. Phil Scott is extending Vermont’s state of emergency for another month, as he and his team continue to manage the pandemic and the vaccination response.

The Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccination pause announced on Tuesday, has been extended another week — until Friday, April 23 — according to Vermont health officials. The Centers for Disease Control advisory committee, which is investigating the incidence of six cases of rare blood clots out of more than 7 million doses, determined it needed more time as it continues to gather and analyze data. All of the clots were in women between 18 and 48 and one woman died.

According to Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, the risk to any one person who received the J&J vaccine recently is “extremely low.”  He said  those who have received the J&J vaccine within the last three weeks and experience severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or swelling, or shortness of breath should contact their healthcare provider. If more than a month has passed since receiving the J&J vaccine, the critical time has ended.

Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said that all Vermont J&J appointments through Friday, April 23 have been cancelled and the Health Department has reached out to reschedule with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. He expects that anyone who has been impacted by this pause will be rescheduled by the end of April and this additional week-long delay should not impact the overall vaccination schedule.

16 to 18 year olds can register for vaccine Saturday

Scott announced a new, earlier window being opened for 16 to 18 year old Vermonters to register for a vaccine starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 17.

The final age band of 16 and over can register beginning Monday, April 19 with a change of the start time, now lowered to 6 a.m. versus the typical 8:15 a.m. Registration through the state website can be made online by clicking here or by calling 855-722-7878.

The decision was made to help ensure these younger people, who are only allowed the Pfizer vaccine per the FDA, would have a better chance of being fully vaccinated in time to participate in graduation and end-of-school-year ceremonies, a consideration they’re being afforded “after all they’ve given up these past 14 months.”

All Vermonters, age 16 and older, are still slated to begin vaccine registration on Monday, April 19, per the previous schedule, although the start time has dropped from 8:15 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Smith said those ages 16 and 17 will need permission from their parent or guardian when signing up. There is a box on the online registration form that a parent or guardian can check.

Cases drop below 1000, positivity lower, but deaths up

[dropbox]T[/dropbox]he Health Department reported this week that new Covid-19 cases have continued to trend downward, going below 1,000 for the first time in three weeks, down from 1,060 last week for a total of 21,803 since the beginning of the pandemic.

The number of people who died from Covid-19 deaths this week reversed trend and increased from three to 11 this week, “a lagging indicator” of the relative virus spread, said Levine. The total number of Vermonters who have died from Covid-19 is now 242. Of those who lost their lives to Covid-19 this week, four were older than 80, one was between 70 and 79, two were between 60 and 69, three were between 50 and 59, and one was between 40 to 49 years old.

Levine said projections continue to look along more favorable scenarios. Variants have been confirmed in 10 of 14 Vermont counties, but he said Vermonters should assume those variants are throughout the state and continue to drive our case counts.

New infection rates showed the greatest decrease in the 20-29 age group, falling 11 percent this past week according to Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Mike Pieciak on Tuesday. He did note, however, that this age group continues to have disproportionately high case counts relative to their total population.

The overall seven-day positivity rate continued to tick downward, going from 2.0 percent last week to 1.9 percent this week. Hospitalizations are up slightly, going from 23 to 26. However, the number of patients in intensive care dropped from seven to three.

The total positive case numbers, deaths and other statistics are based on data published on the Health Department’s daily dashboard from Friday, April 9 through Friday, April 16.

Over half of Vermonters vaccinated

According to the Health Department, over half of all Vermonters, age 16 and older, have been vaccinated with at least one dose, as nearly 279,400 eligible Vermonters have received a vaccine: Almost 93,000 have received their first dose; nearly 186,500 have received both doses. Of those Vermonters 30 and older who were able to register for the vaccine on Monday, April 12, approximately 18,000, or 59 percent in that age group, have made an appointment.

Pieciak announced on Tuesday that Vermont is among the first in the nation with vaccinating those age 65 and older, with 91.6 percent started or completed vaccination. Vermont also currently ranks fourth in total doses administered, and seventh in percent of population vaccinated. Vermont also leads the country in per capita testing.

The pace of vaccination has reached a new high, hitting over 11,000 vaccinations given on a single day with a seven-day average rising by 16 percent over last week.

According to Pieciak, Vermont became first in the nation for intention to vaccinate. According to the latest Census Bureau survey data, nearly 85 percent of Vermonters who have not yet been vaccinated indicated they will “definitely” or “probably” get the vaccine once it is available to them.

Walgreens will continue to offer vaccinations and Vermonters can register directly on its website or through the state website. Kinney Drugs and CVS also continue to offer vaccines and can be scheduled either on their respective websites or through the state website. Shaw’s also began offering vaccinations but only larger Shaw’s stores that have a pharmacy will be participating in the vaccination program. Neither the Ludlow nor Springfield locations is eligible.

Price Chopper and Rite Aid began offering vaccines on Monday, April 12 with both the Ludlow and Springfield Rite Aid locations participating. Appointments cannot be made directly through the stores however; scheduling must happen through the state website.

County numbers mixed; local counts remain low

Wndham County added 59 new cases, up from 47 new cases last week, for a total of 1,227. Windsor County added 25 new cases, slightly down from 28 last week for a total of 1,261. Bennington County numbers jumped again adding 82 new cases, up from 47 cases last week, for a total of 1,831. Rutland County continued to drop, adding 79 new cases, down from 117 last week for a total of 1,974.

The case counts of local town totals remain fairly low with Springfield decreasing from 10 cases last week down to six new cases this week. Chester added two new cases this week, up from one last week. Ludlow reported two cases, up from zero last week and Cavendish added one case, matching last week.

In K-12 schools throughout Vermont, there are 91 new Covid cases this week, down from 107 last week, continuing the downward trend over the last few weeks, with 1170 total Covid cases reported on the School Based Covid-19 Transmission document as of Wednesday, April 11.

UVM reported a total of 59 student positive cases during the week of April 5 -11, a significant drop from 94 cases reported last week.

The Covid-19 testing schedule for Springfield has been updated with daily testing available from now through Saturday, May 1 with varying times each day. The CIC Health Testing in Springfield is located at 51 Pearl St., Level 1, in Springfield. Click on this link to check for specific times each day. Sign up to be notified of future testing dates in the area of your choice.

For more state-wide details on Covid-19 information and resources, click here.

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