Vermont state officials discussed plans for quickly rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations to children following the anticipated CDC approval this week for 5- to 11-year-olds.
Childhood vaccination was one of the main areas of focus at the state’s media briefing Tuesday with a presentation by Dr. Rebecca Bell, President of the Vermont Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and information from Gov. Phil Scott, Health Commissioner Mark Levine and Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith.
Smith said the state will open its online and phone-based appointment system starting at 8 a.m. the morning after final federal approval is given.
Smith said the state expects to receive over 23,000 child vaccine doses by the end of the week for the state’s 44,000 children in the new age bracket. Most will be distributed by the state and its local partners while other doses will flow through pharmacies with a direct allocation from the federal government.
Dr. Bell and the state officials urged parents to get their children vaccinated, saying doses were safe and effective and would go a long way to helping keep kids in school and participating in activities while also boosting the overall public health position of Vermont with more vaccinated people.
Bell also referenced a series of Zoom sessions conducted by area pediatricians that will be held in the coming weeks to answer parents’ questions about the vaccine. On Tuesday, Nov. 16, from 7-8 p.m. Dr. Josh Kantrowitz of St. Johnsbury Pediatrics will participate in one session. The Zoom link is available on the website of the Vermont Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics at http://aapvt.org/
One early child vaccination opportunity in the area will likely be in St. Johnsbury. According to Jesse Dimick, COVID vaccination manager at NVRH, assuming the federal approval plans are underway to hold a 100-dose 5- to 11-year-old vaccination clinic in the vaccination center at the Green Mountain Mall this Saturday from 8-4:30 by registration. Dimick said there will be staff from St. Johnsbury Pediatrics on hand to answer any questions and assist with the clinic. Future child clinics administered by NVRH will depend on future demand and resource availability, said Dimick.
During the press briefing, Secretary Smith noted the state intends to hold a number of vaccination clinics in schools in the coming weeks and that doses would also be available at some state-run clinics and pharmacies.
During the media briefing Sec. Smith referenced last week’s visit to the Northeast Kingdom by Gov. Scott, Dr. Levine and Smith.
“Last week the governor, Dr. Levine, and myself visited North Country Hospital in Newport. We went there to encourage residents of the Northeast Kingdom to get vaccinated and get their booster,” said Smith. “While we were there the governor and the members of the Orleans delegation got their booster shot. Since we held that event almost 500 people in the NEK have gotten vaccines or booster doses. Thank you to those folks for doing their part and looking out for each other.”
Smith said that the majority of those 500 doses were boosters, but the exact proportions weren’t immediately available.
Smith noted that another barnstorming vaccination effort was coming to the NEK this weekend. Stops would include:
Wednesday, Nov. 3 - Glover Ambulance - 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 4 - Newport Ambulance - 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 6 - Orleans Fire Dept. - 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 7 - Brighton Fire Dept. - 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Each clinic will have all 3 dose varieties - and will be walk-in only. Northern Counties Health Care will also add a 100-person clinic in Island Pond from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. for a registration-only clinic for booster doses.
The NEK added 29 new COVID infections according to Tuesday’s report, with 7 in Caledonia, 19 in Orleans and 3 in Essex. The 7-day average inched back up to an average of 39 cases per day.
The NEK accounts for 3 of the 9 active outbreaks in long term care facilities in the state right now, according to Vt. Department of Health data, with St. Johnsbury Health & Rehab - 33 cases, Newport Health Care Center - 17 cases, and Maple Lane Nursing Home in Barton - case count not disclosed.
In the latest COVID reports released this week, NEK schools were impacted by the ongoing Delta surge, with a number of local schools reporting additional cases on campus while infectious. Including: Albany Community School - 1 new case, 5 total; Brighton Elem. School - 2, 7; Brownington Central School - 2, 6; Charleston Elem. School - 1, 6; Concord School - 2, 2; Cornerstone School - 1, 2; Danville School - 1, 7; Derby Elem. School - 4, 44; Glover Community School - 2, 4; Good Shepherd Catholic School - 1, 2; Hazen UHS - 1, 2; Lake Region UHS - 1, 17; Lakeview Union School - 1, 1; Lunenburg School - 1, 1; Lyndon Institute - 4, 6; Newport City Elem. School - 1, 16; North Country UHS - 1, 36; North Country Union Jr. HS - 1, 12.