MONTPELIER — State officials are urging younger eligible Vermonters to sign up for vaccination against COVID-19, as data shows a lag in signups.
“With Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday, there is no better gift you can give … than by getting vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation on Tuesday.
Pieciak presented the data during Tuesday’s press conference updating the public on the state’s response to the pandemic.
As of Tuesday, Vermont ranked first in the nation in doses administered per 100,000 residents, and cases have remained on a positive trajectory, with 88 cases per 100,000 people on average in Vermont as opposed the national average of 101.6 per 100,000. However, while cases are broadly down, cases among Vermonters age 40 and below have increased 23%.
Pieciak noted that the 18-to-29 age group is the only one in Vermont where vaccine uptake doesn’t exceed the national average, although demand for the vaccine among those yet to receive a dose is the highest in the nation.
“Now, these age groups have become eligible more recently, but they are not scheduling at the rate we would like them to,” said Pieciak, adding that he anticipates the state will remain on track to enter stage three of its reopening plan on June 1.
The Vermont Department of Health's latest update shows that, through May 3, 50.5% of those aged 16-17 in Chittenden County had received at least one dose while just 40% of those aged 18-29 had done so.
“The only way that will become a reality is if those who are not yet vaccinated, step up and do so,” he said.
The latest numbers come as Vermont moves to transition its vaccination program to provide more opportunities for walk-in and popup clinics in places like job sites, fairgrounds and even speedways.
“We want to meet them where they are,” Gov. Phil Scott said of reaching the remaining population of eligible Vermonters.
Mike Smith, Secretary of the Agency of Human Services, said a host of clinics are scheduled for the coming weeks, and that while registration is preferred, some walk-ins will be accepted. He said several speedways will have clinics for walk-ins only.
Smith said officials have discussed holding vaccination sites at a number of public venues, such as Church Street in Burlington.
“We really want to make sure Vermont stays number one and that we get as many people vaccinated as possible,” he said.
While the state’s federal vaccine allocation will remain level over the next few weeks, Scott reported that potential changes to the ordering process for vaccines could allow the state to order more than it’s current maximum allotment.
“So if we keep up demand in Vermont, this could be extremely beneficial to us,” Scott said.
The current cap is based on population, so Vermont’s allocation currently maxes out at about 20,000 doses, Scott said. The ordering change would allow states to ask for as much as 50% more on a weekly basis.
“We’re a small state and asking for up to maybe 10,000 doses wouldn’t be a big ask for us on a federal level,” Scott said.