Vermont Closes In on Vaccination Goal — and Considers Sending Shots to Canada | Off Message

Vermont Closes In on Vaccination Goal — and Considers Sending Shots to Canada

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Gốc Văn Trần gets vaccinated for COVID-19 at the Winooski Armory - FILE: LY TRẦN
  • File: Ly Trần
  • Gốc Văn Trần gets vaccinated for COVID-19 at the Winooski Armory
Vermonters are closing in on the state’s goal of an 80 percent vaccination rate, raising expectations that Gov. Phil Scott will lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions this month.

The state is still gathering vaccination data from Sunday and Monday, but as of Tuesday morning, an estimated 78 percent of eligible Vermonters had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Another 11,346 people need to get vaccinated in order to reach that 80 percent. If 1,000 a day were vaccinated, the state would fully reopen June 11, Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said during the governor’s regular COVID-19 news briefing Tuesday.



Most people over age 12 are now eligible to be vaccinated and dozens of walk-in clinics have been open. Up to 2,500 people were getting jabbed daily until May 25, when the pace slowed, Smith said. On Friday, just under 1,500 were vaccinated, and on Saturday, 1,509. If  those rates hold, full reopening would happen June 7, he said.

Vermont’s virus positivity rate is now lower than 1 percent, and the state has gone 15 days without a death from COVID-19, the officials said.

Many of the people who own businesses that rely on tourists from Canada are wondering when that border will reopen. On May 27, the Conference of the
New England Governors and the Eastern Canadian Premiers wrote to President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ask if they could make some surplus vaccine supplies in New England states available to Canadian authorities.

Trudeau has said he wants Canadians to reach a 75 percent vaccination level before the border opens. About 58 percent of Canadians have had one shot, but only 6 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the Canadian government. Québec is a little ahead of the national average; nearly 61 percent of the population there has obtained at least one vaccine dose, said Vermont Finance Commissioner Mike Pieciak.

“We express our commitment to working together to implement a strategy for the transfer of those doses from the U.S. to Canada,” the letter reads. “This would facilitate the future reopening of our national border and the return to normal, cross-border economic activity in our region.”

Last summer, COVID-19 cases dropped as people moved their activities outdoors, but rose sharply in the fall as school activities resumed and the cold weather sent people indoors. But this coming autumn is expected to be very different as a result of the vaccination program, which started in December.

Vermont's infections rate is not expected to rise as it did last year, said Levine. He noted that the Northeast has shown that it can be relatively successful in fighting the spread of the virus.

“We are going to have a region-wide ability to really impact the virus,” Levine said. “Other parts of the country and other parts of the world are somewhat of a wildcard, and we're going to have to watch how that goes.”