OBSERVER STAFF REPORT
Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg will host a COVID vaccination clinic on Tuesday, May 18 that will be open to anyone aged 12 and up. The Champlain Valley School District announced the event Tuesday, one day after the federal Food and Drug Administration cleared the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds. The vaccine had previously been approved only for people ages 16 and older.
CVU is one of 40 schools around the state planning to host vaccination clinics for people 12 and over.
The CVU clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. An appointment is recommended and can be made at the Vermont Department of Health website: www.healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine. A second dose clinic is scheduled for June 8 at CVU.
Parents and guardians will need to create an account on the Health Department website and add their child as a dependent to schedule an appointment for them. Parents can accompany their child at the clinic, but are not required to. According to the Agency of Education, the clinic will have a limited number of doses available on a walk-in basis, but children still need parental consent.
Children ages 12-15 will also be able to get appointments for vaccines at Kinney Drugs, CVS and Costco. Health Commissioner Mark Levine called the FDA’s approval “great news” that is based on clinical trials of 2,260 children ages 12-15 years old.
“There were 18 cases of COVID-19 in the placebo group and, significantly, none in the vaccinated group — that’s 100 percent efficacy,” Levine said Tuesday. “Side effects were about the same as those seen in people 16 years old and older.”
He encouraged parents with questions about the vaccine to talk to a pediatrician or health care provider.“ These conversations are the ones that will help you get the fact-based information you need to make an informed decision,” Levine said.
With Vermont leading the country in vaccinations, Gov. Phil Scott teased the possibility of speeding up the reopening of Vermont. The next step toward reopening is slated for June 1, and the target for broad reopening is July 4.
The state has already met its target of at least 60 percent of the population receiving at least one dose of vaccine by June 1. Scott said the July 4 phase could be “accelerated,” but “we need a lot more people vaccinated than are currently registered.”
“We’ve said since the beginning that our plan can change depending on conditions, and it could have gone either way, but fortunately, we’re in a very good place,” Scott said. “And if, and only if, Vermonters step up and get vaccinated, we could get out of this sooner than we thought and hoped for.”
The Vermont Department of Health reported about 62 percent of Vermonters age 16 and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine, first in the nation to reach that level. About 43 percent have completed the vaccination process, ranking it third.
At the same time, cases continue to drop throughout the state. Vermont reported 381 cases in the past week, compared to 536 cases the week before, said Michael Pieciak, head of the Department of Financial Regulation. In total, cases are down 69 percent from their peak around April 1, Pieciak said.
Severe cases of the disease are also dropping. Hospitalizations have fallen 17 percent in the past week and 29 percent in the past 14 days, Pieciak said. Two people have died so far in May.
Pieciak cautioned that Maine, with a slightly higher infection rate than Vermont, has a far higher hospitalization and ICU rate than Vermont. Many of those hospitalized are younger Mainers.
“Even with our strong (vaccine) uptakes here in Vermont, we remain vulnerable to this type of setback if we don’t see high uptake among all age bands,” he said.
— Erin Petenko of VTDigger contributed to this report