By Guy Page
The Scott administration yesterday strongly urged Vermonters to encourage family and friends to “step up when it’s their turn” to choose vaccination.
Since last fall, the Scott administration has resisted outlining a strategy for handling Vermonters who resist being vaccinated for Covid-19. With just about 12% of Vermonters now fully vaccinated, the administration has yet to say if or when it will require vaccination as a prerequisite for travel and employment, or allow employers to do so.
At the March 9 bi-weekly Covid press conference March 9, Commissioner of Financial Regulation Michael Pieciak said Vermonters rank #1 in unvaccinated citizens’ willingness to be vaccinated.
“Among those who are not yet vaccinated, almost 70 percent of Vermonters said they would definitely get the vaccine which is the highest ranking in the country,” Pieciak said. “But as you can also see there’s still a significant number of people who are unsure about the vaccine. And as you saw from today’s data getting vaccinated is the key to getting out of the pandemic. It’s certainly important to encourage your friends and your family to step up when it’s their turn.”
In other vaccination news, Commissioner Mark Levine explained the state’s decision to allow vaccination of household members of BIPOC individuals registered for vaccination.
BIPOC Vermonters are more likely (18% of all positive cases) to get Covid-19 than white Vermonters, Levine said. Also, their hospitalization rate is signficantly higher. Their potential transmission rate is higher because they are more likely to work with the public, use public transportation, and live in multi-generational households, Levine said.
Levine also conceded the barrier of BIPOC resistance to public health initiatives in general. VDH is “working to fix distrust in public health” that is at least partly responsible for “seeing significant disparities in vaccination,” he said.
Also, in response to a question by Vermont Daily, Gov. Scott addressed the concern expressed by many Roman Catholic bishops about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine developed with testing of stem cells from aborted human fetuses.
“It’s our plan to allow people to make that choice. I’ve heard on the other side of the equation where many people are waiting for the Johnson and Johnson. They want the one shot regimen, and they’re looking forward to that. So I think it will be fine either way. If you do not want the Johnson and Johnson you’re not going to be forced to have it. We’ll make sure that you get on a list for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine.”
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Pickleballers await indoor/outdoor sports decisions – A Pickleball player told Vermont Daily that while martial arts are being practiced indoors, pickleball players are not allowed to play their tennis/ping-pong hybrid sport indoors – yet. What’s up with that?, the 65-year-old pickleballer asked.
Vermont Daily passed this question along to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and received this answer: “Currently pickleball could be played outside under section 4.1 of the Work Safe Memo – adult organized sports competitions and leagues are not yet permitted, but we anticipate more outdoor expansion in the weeks ahead and addressing indoor sports following that (italics added).
“As for martial arts, they are allowed to train, but full contact is not allowed. Here is a quote from Page 9 of the sports guidance: ‘High contact – wrestling and martial arts – may hold practice sessions limited to no and low contact physical conditioning and skill building drills. Full contact matches are not permitted.’”
Gov. Scott’s executive order requiring most state employees work at home has been extended through April. Both Gov. Scott and an administration official said the longterm policy on whether state employees work from home is being studied, and that a hybrid arrangement appears likely. Vermont Daily plans to cover this issue in depth in the near future.