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Vermont Officials Announce Preliminary COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan

Rubber gloved hands hold a syringe
Kirsty Wigglesworth
/
Associated Press File
According to state health officials, it is a possibility Vermont will receive COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of the year.

The Scott administration has unveiled a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan that puts certain health care workers, as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities, at the front of the line to receive immunizations.

Gov. Phil Scott outlined the interim distribution plan at a media briefing on Friday.

“It’s important to note there are still a lot of unanswered questions from the federal government, which will undoubtedly impact our distribution plan,” Scott said. “But we’re fully prepared to customize it when we receive those details.”

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Commissioner of Health Mark Levine said it’s a “possibility” the vaccine could arrive in Vermont as soon as the end of the year.

“But we don’t expect supplies to be enough to vaccinate everyone at the start,” Levine said. “Allocation to states will likely be based on population size and infection rates.”

The limited supply of the doses that do arrive will likely be set aside for health care workers at high risk of being exposed to the virus, Levine said, and staff and residents of long-term care facilities.

"We will necessarily need to prioritize those groups of people to whom it is most critical to get the first doses of vaccine." — Health Commissioner Mark Levine

He said other vulnerable populations will be added to the vaccine-eligible list as supply grows, and that it likely won’t be until well into 2021 before the vaccine is eligible to the general population.

“We will necessarily need to prioritize those groups of people to whom it is most critical to get the first doses of vaccine,” Levine said.

The health commissioner added that preparing Vermont’s medical infrastructure to administer the vaccine, once it becomes widely available, will be an “enormous undertaking.” But he said state and federal agencies are already working with health care providers to develop a plan.

The federal government has announced partnerships with Walgreens and CVS to administer vaccines to long-term care facilities. Levine said the Department of Health is working to expand the number of health care providers authorized to administer vaccines.

More from VPR: Poll Shows Fewer Than Half Of Vermonters Eager To Take Vaccine

While arrival of a vaccine will mark a key milestone in Vermont’s ability to combat the virus, Levine noted the state will not begin distributing vaccines until public health officials here are certain that the product is safe.

“Any vaccine must meet all FDA safety standards and be recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices,” he said. “Safety and effectiveness will be the only priorities, independent of any external considerations.”

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Peter Hirschfeld @PeteHirschfeld.

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