Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, said at Friday’s press conference that all hospitals have now received their allocation of COVID-19 vaccine for the first week and have been busy vaccinating their higher risk healthcare staff.
Meanwhile, our pharmacy partners — CVS, Walgreens and HealthDirect/Kinney Drugs — are scheduled to begin clinics at long-term care facilities next week.
“We need to be patient as we wait to make sure those at highest risk are protected right now,” Dr. Levine said. “While we won’t get to watch all the vaccinations that continue over the coming months like we saw the very first one, we can keep this in mind: every time a Vermonter gets vaccinated, all of us benefit.”
Before finalizing the next priority group for vaccination, we are awaiting recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which will be meeting this weekend, and our own Vaccine Implementation Advisory Group, which met today.
As important as the vaccine is, we must stay focused on preventing the spread of COVID-19, Dr. Levine said, especially with the holidays that begin next week.
“The guidance that is currently in place still calls for us to avoid social gatherings, and the CDC has also said: the safest way to celebrate is to celebrate at home with the people you live with,” Dr. Levine said.
We need to remind anyone who does gather, to keep it as small as possible, wear masks, keep a 6-foot distance, go outside if you can, he said. And always stay away from others if you’re sick.
Plan ahead to get tested — right after a gathering, and seven days later. And if you gather or travel, plan to quarantine — stay home and away from others, either for 14 days or seven days with your negative test result (as long as you don’t have symptoms).
“The fact is, we need to acknowledge that some people will choose these higher risk activities, but if we can encourage them to take these steps, we can still help protect our communities from further spread,” Dr. Levine said. “And please strongly reconsider any gathering that involves a person with underlying medical conditions or an older person.”