A health care worker prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine
Vermonters age 65 and older can begin making COVID-19 vaccination appointments on Monday, March 1, state officials said Tuesday. About 42,000 people in that category will be able to go online at 8:15 a.m. to pick a time and site to be vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Scott's proverbial spigot, which has been nearly frozen shut for months, got another small turn in the right direction Tuesday. Once Vermonters have had both doses of the vaccine, they will be free to gather with members of another household.
“If your parents are fully vaccinated, you can go to their house for dinner, or vice versa,” Scott said at one of his twice-weekly press conferences.
The state had announced last Friday that people with proof of full vaccination — including those from out of state — could travel in Vermont without needing to quarantine.
Last fall, Scott put a stop to multi-household gatherings, a ban that was briefly lifted — though many restrictions applied — around the holidays. Scott said the change announced Tuesday was made in accordance with new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
“They concluded not only do vaccines protect you from COVID-19, but they also prevent you from spreading it, which is very encouraging news,” he said.
Scott said Tuesday that the state is going to receive about 14,500 doses of vaccine for each of the next three weeks, about 1,000 more than it did last week. Second doses, which are not included in that number, will arrive separately. The state will reactivate the Vermont National Guard to help with vaccine administration.
Meanwhile the governor — who had just gotten off a call with other governors and the White House — said Johnson & Johnson was seeking emergency authorization from the federal Food and Drug Administration for its vaccine, which requires just one shot. If it's granted, Vermont would receive additional doses.
Last Friday, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development issued a small hint of more spigot-turning to come. Sometime in the spring, the agency said, the rules for traveling and gathering will return to what they had been last August. The agency has been under pressure from the hospitality and events industries to set expectations that those businesses could use to make reservations for the coming spring and summer.
Asked about what that news could mean for Vermont colleges, Scott said he expects the fall semester in higher education could commence more like what it used to be.
“From my standpoint, if we continue to receive the supply [of vaccine] that we’re receiving, it appears to me we’ll be in pretty good shape by mid-summer, late summer,” he said. “Things may not be exactly back to normal, but a lot more normal than they are today, and certain more normal than in September or than in February.”