By some indicators, the number of people likely to be seen masking when shopping downtown for instance, local COVID-19 anxiety and caution appears to have diminished considerably in recent weeks.
The trend is not confined to Vermont.
“Unfortunately, the country has largely responded with a collective yawn about the bivalent booster doses,” said Dr. William Moss on Friday, Oct. 14. Moss is the vaccinology lead for the Coronavirus Resource Center at John Hopkins University, which has been tracking the worldwide impact of COVID-19 and its variants since the onset of the pandemic.
Public officials are making policy decisions in anticipation of a possible surge of viral infections as colder weather moves people into interior spaces. Vermont’s Health Department last week re-instituted the program that allows school nurses to administer COVID tests. The program had been in place during the two previous school years and will now be continued through August 2023.
A full 80% of eligible Vermonters have completed the primary series of COVID vaccinations (84% in Washington County), only 40% (46% in Washington County) of those eligible have received all recommended doses. That number includes the bivalent booster, which protects against the now prevalent BA.4 and BA.5 variants of the original Omicron virus that caused a tremendous surge in illness, hospitalizations, and death last winter.
Dr. Brian Garibaldi, Coronavirus Resource Center team physician in Maryland said, “COVID is not over . . . we’re still having hundreds of deaths a day across the country. We’re not seeing as much primary respiratory failure as we were early in the pandemic. But the number of deaths continues to hover around 500 a day.”
The coming flu season, forecast by high rates of infection during the southern hemisphere winter in Australia and New Zealand, is also of concern to the CRC team and Vermont health officials. In Vermont flu vaccines are now widely available at pharmacies, through primary care practices, and at state-run walk-in clinics. The Vermont Health Department website, healthvermont.gov, includes resources for transportation assistance or delivery of the vaccine to people who are homebound.
The Health Department notes that the COVID-19 booster and the flu shot can be taken at the same time.
Also, Novavax is not currently available at walk-in clinics, but you can ask your primary care provider, and it can be found at many health clinics around the state. You can find vaccine specific locations at vaccines.gov
. Or call 802-863-7200 or toll-free 800-464-4343.
Walk-In Clinics for COVID-19 and Flu Vaccines
The Vermont Health Department is providing walk-in clinics to make it easier for Vermonters to get COVID-19 and flu vaccines. Sign up at healthvermont.gov/covid-19/vaccine
- Flu shots for people under 65, look for Flu < 65. For people ages 65 and older, please contact your health care provider or local pharmacy to find out how to get vaccinated.
- Updated (bivalent) boosters for ages 12+, look for Pfizer Bivalent Booster 12+ or Moderna Bivalent Booster 18+.
- For ages 12–17, look for clinics that offer the Pfizer vaccine and bring a parent or guardian with you.
- For children ages 5–11, look for a clinic that offers Pfizer (Ages 5–11).
- For children ages 6 months–5 years, look for a clinic that offers Moderna (under age 6) or Pfizer (under age 5).
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