COVID boosters open to BIPOC adults and older Vermonters
Vermont opened COVID-19 Pfizer booster registration to all eligible people Friday, including one newly announced category: Vermonters age 18 and older who are Black, Indigenous or people of color.
Those eligible for the booster shots also includes all Vermonters age 65 and older, adults with high-risk conditions and adults at risk of exposure from their job (see list below).
Booster shots are currently available only for people who got their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months ago. There is no booster shot available for Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccines. You can only get a booster shot of the same vaccine; you can't get a Pfizer booster if you originally got a different vaccine.
Health Department officials said Vermonters who don’t get the third-shot booster are still considered “fully vaccinated.”
Those who go to get their booster aren’t required to bring proof of their earlier vaccinations. They will have to state that they meet the eligibility requirements. And they should bring their COVID-19 vaccine cards for updating.
BIPOC Vermonters can get the booster shot if they received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine six months ago or more, according to a press release from the state.
Data from the state Department of Health shows that Vermonters of color, particularly Black people, face higher rates of COVID-19 than white Vermonters. National data also shows that Black, Hispanic and Native American COVID-19 patients have higher rates of hospitalization and death.
The state hosted BIPOC-specific vaccination clinics in the winter and spring to help narrow the vaccination gap between BIPOC and white Vermonters, and opened eligibility for BIPOC of all age groups a few weeks before the general public.
But though the rate of vaccination among younger Vermonters is similar among all racial groups, there’s still a racial gap among older Vermonters: 91% of BIPOC Vermonters have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with 96% of non-Hispanic white Vermonters.
A list of eligible high-risk conditions is available on the health department website. The state has also shared examples of who may qualify for the booster because of their occupation, but there’s no hard list of qualifying jobs: Vermont is allowing anyone who works indoors with the public or with other workers to get the shot.
As of Friday morning, more than 4,700 people have signed up to get the booster, according to the press release.
About 8,500 Vermonters have received an “additional dose” of the COVID-19 vaccine beyond the original one or two, according to newly added vaccine dashboard data. That could include immunocompromised Vermonters who began getting the booster weeks ago as well as older Vermonters who signed up in the past week.
Getting a COVID-19 booster shot is free and easy. Visit healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine for more information, and to find a location that offers the Pfizer vaccine near you.
To register through the Health Department website:
• Visit healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine
• Click the “make an appointment” button.
• Log in to your account. Have the information you need to log in ready.
• If you are eligible by work or medical conditions, you may need to update your details in the registration system before making an appointment. Go to the Dependent/Household/Client tab and click the UPDATE DETAILS button.
• Proceed with making your appointment.
If you have not previously been vaccinated through the state registration system, need assistance or speak a language other than English, call (toll-free) 1-855-722-7878.
The state reported 42 people are in the hospital with COVID-19 on Monday, down seven cases from Friday, when Vermont saw the highest number of hospitalizations during the Delta surge. Monday’s number included 14 people in intensive care units because of the disease.
ELIGIBLE BASED ON CERTAIN MEDICAL CONDITIONS
People 18 years or older with certain medical conditions that put them at high risk of getting severely ill with COVID-19 will be eligible to get a booster shot if they have gotten their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months ago. The medical conditions are:
-Cancer, including history of cancer.
-Chronic kidney disease.
-Chronic lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate to severe), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension.
-Dementia or other neurological conditions.
-Diabetes (type 1 or type 2).
-Down syndrome, and other chromosomal disorders, such as intellectual disabilities (IQ of 70 or below), disabilities that compromise lung function (neurological and muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis).
-Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary heart disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension).
-Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)-
-Overweight and obesity.
-Sickle cell disease or thalassemia.
-Smoking, current or former.
-Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant.
-Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain.
-Substance use disorders.
ELIGIBLE BASED ON WORK
People age 18 and older who are more likely to be exposed to or spread COVID because of where they work are also eligible for a booster. This means people who work indoors, where they are exposed to the public and to other workers. Examples include:
-First responders (health care workers, firefighters, police).
-Education staff (teachers, support staff, child care workers).
-Food and agriculture workers.
-U.S. Postal Service Workers.
-Public transit workers.
-Grocery store workers.
-Food service workers.
Those who live or work in congregate settings will also be eligible. This includes long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities.