About COVID-19 Vaccines in Vermont

About COVID-19 Vaccines in Vermont

As of 01/23/2021
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See data on vaccines in Vermont!

The Health Department is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other partners to prepare for and distribute vaccines as they become available. This page will be updated often as new information becomes available.

Please do not call or email to register now – you will not be able to make an appointment yet. Thank you for your patience as we prepare for registration on Monday.

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Why get vaccinated?

COVID-19, also called coronavirus, is making people sick around the world. In addition to wearing masks, keeping 6 feet apart and washing our hands, vaccines are important tools to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Vaccines help your body fight off the virus and keep you from getting sick. The more people who get vaccinated, the faster we can end the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 vaccines will not give you the disease. Vaccines make your body think you have the disease without actually getting it. The immune system, the part of your body that fights sickness, responds to the vaccine by creating antibodies. Antibodies are disease-specific proteins that fight off the virus when they see it. The vaccines currently available use mRNA technology, which does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA.

Who can get a COVID-19 vaccine now?

People in Phase 1A are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine now. That includes:

  • Health care personnel (health care personnel comprise clinical staff members, including nursing or medical assistants and support staff (e.g., those who work in food, environmental, and administrative services))
  • Residents of long-term care facilities (skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities) Vaccination may be offered first to residents and health care personnel in skilled nursing facilities because of health care personnel's high likelihood to be exposed to COVID-19 patients and long-term care residents. (health care personnel are clinical staff members, including nursing or medical assistants) Learn more about vaccines for long-term care facility residents and staff.

The Vermont Vaccine Implementation Advisory Committee has specified that "health care personnel" includes:

  • Long-term care staff* who have direct patient contact
  • Health care providers (all classes including students and support personnel), primarily but not exclusively located in the Emergency Departments and Intensive Care Units, providing care to patients with COVID-19
  • Emergency Medical Services personnel** with direct patient contact
  • Home health care clinical staff and caregivers who have contact with multiple patients or who are high-risk for serious illness from COVID-19
  • Any other health care providers and staff who have patient contact

*Staff includes all health care providers who enter the facility, regardless of who employs them, as well as ancillary staff. Family caregivers are not included in this definition.
**Emergency medical service personnel and responders include staff within ambulance or rescue squads, fire or police departments, who respond to emergency calls to provide or assist with care or transport for, or access to, sick or injured persons.

Who will be eligible next?

Age Groupings

Vermont is using age groupings to determine who can receive the vaccine next based on our primary goal with vaccination efforts –  to save lives.  

Registration for people in Vermont who are 75 years and older will begin on January 25. Vaccine clinics will start on January 27. People will register online. If they are not able to register online, they can call a phone number. The website and phone number will be posted on or before January 25.

You will not be able to make an appointment by calling any other Health Department phone number. Please do not call your health care provider or hospital for vaccine appointments. 

After people 75 and older, the next age grouping will be 70 years and older, then 65 and older, as vaccine supply allows. These phases will overlap. Based on what we know now about how much vaccine Vermont will get from the federal government, it will probably take until spring to finish these groups. This is an estimated plan and timeframe that could shift based on how much vaccine Vermont receives and how many people choose to get vaccinated when they are eligible.

High-risk Health Conditions

After the age groups, the vaccine will be available to people in Vermont who have certain high-risk health conditions. These are medical conditions that put them at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 as identified by the CDC. These are:

  • Current cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD, also called emphysema
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
  • Severe obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Down Syndrome
  • Sickle cell disease

How Decisions Are Made

The Health Department works with State leadership to make these difficult choices after considering recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, CDC, and Vermont’s Vaccine Implementation Advisory Committee. Based on our data, we know that focusing next on providing vaccine to people based on their age and whether they have certain high-risk health conditions will help us save lives.

Equity is also a consideration in our vaccination efforts. We are committed to addressing the historical and current factors that contribute to health disparities. Members of certain demographic groups have been disproportionately overrepresented in Vermont’s COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death rates. Because of these increased risks, historical harms and the resulting mistrust of health care and public health, we will ensure that Black, Indigenous and people of color in Vermont community gets the support they need, in the language they need, in the locations they need, to make informed choices and to get scheduled for vaccinations.

The Health Department is not keeping a list of eligible people. As each group becomes eligible, we will announce when those people can register for appointments. In addition to Health Department communications, we will work with partners such as health care practices, pharmacies, employers, and local news media to announce additional groups who become eligible for the vaccine.

Where can people get vaccinated?

In Phase 1A, health care workers and long-term care residents and staff are being notified directly about when and where they can get vaccinated. 

For each phase, we will offer vaccines at regional clinics set up by the state. These clinics will be handicapped accessibile. Some vaccines will be available through our partner hospitals, providers, and pharmacies. Our goal will be to administer every available dose each week. We are also collaborating with community organizations and other partners to make sure people who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, including Black, Indigenous and people of color, have equitable access to the vaccine.

Which vaccines are available in Vermont?

Two COVID-19 vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Learn more about Emergency Use Authorization and watch a video on what an EUA is.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received an EUA on December 11, 2020. The Moderna vaccine received an EUA on December 18, 2020. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have nearly identical rates of effectiveness (94%-95%). Both vaccines require two doses over a similar timespan – 21 days between doses for Pfizer-BioNTech and 28 days for Moderna. Both are authorized for similar age groups. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized for people 16 years and older. The Moderna vaccine is authorized for people 18 years and older. The main difference between the vaccines is storage temperature. Pfizer-BioNTech requires ultracold storage.

Both vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which when introduced into the body, activate the body to produce “spike proteins,” which are displayed on the outside of the body’s cells, and create an immune response.

Possible Side Effects

Some participants in clinical trials for both vaccines showed a strong immune response, leading to side effects. The second shot may result in a stronger immune response than the first shot. This is a normal way that your body builds immunity to COVID-19. Below are some of the participants' most reported side effects during clinical trials for the two leading vaccines.

Side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reported by some trial participants:

  • Pain at the injection site (84.1%)
  • Fatigue (62.9%)
  • Headache (55.1%)
  • Chills (31.9%)
  • Joint Pain (23.6%)
  • Fever (14.2%)

Side effects for the Moderna vaccine reported by some trial participants

  • Pain at the injection site (92%)
  • Fatigue (70%)
  • Headache (64.7%)
  • Muscle pain (61.5%)
  • Joint pain (46.4%)
  • Chills (45.4%)
  • Nausea/Vomiting (23%)
  • Fever (15.5%)
How will I know when I can get my vaccine?

In Phase 1A, health care workers and long-term care residents and staff are being notified directly about when and where they can get vaccinated. 

The Health Department is not keeping a list of eligible people. As each group becomes eligible, we will announce when those people can register for appointments. In addition to Health Department communications, we will work with partners such as health care practices, pharmacies, employers, and local news media to announce additional groups who become eligible for the vaccine.

Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have two doses of the vaccine?

Yes. People who get the vaccine should continue taking steps to prevent COVID-19. It takes time for the vaccine to train your body to fight COVID-19, so you may not be protected by the vaccine for a few weeks after your second dose. It will take a while for everyone to be vaccinated. While the vaccine protects you from illness, we don’t know if you can give the virus to someone else. Until enough people are vaccinated and we know more, we need to follow all safety guidelines like wearing a mask out in public, washing your hands frequently and social distancing.

Together, the vaccine and those preventive actions are the best ways to keep from getting and spreading COVID-19.

Are the vaccines safe and effective?

Years of research into vaccines have brought us to where we are today. Scientists began researching coronavirus vaccines starting with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012. When these viruses disappeared, the pressure to find a coronavirus vaccine decreased. When COVID-19 was identified, the global focus on eliminating this new coronavirus and ending the pandemic, combined with large amounts of funding, helped speed up the research process to create a safe and effective vaccine.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine have received Emergency Use Authorization from U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Step 1: Vaccine Safety

With a brand new vaccine, researchers give it to a small number of volunteers — usually 20 to 100 — to test for any serious side effects. This step also helps determine the right dose or amount of vaccine to use.

Step 2: Vaccine Effectiveness

Once they know a vaccine isn’t likely to cause any serious side effects, researchers then give it to hundreds of people to determine how well the vaccine works (or its effectiveness). Researchers continue to monitor for any short-term side effects.

Step 3: Double Check Safety & Effectiveness

This is the last step before researchers can apply for approval from the FDA and begin to use it. To make sure the vaccine is safe and effective for people across ages, ethnicities, genders, and other factors, they give it to tens of thousands of people. This uncovers less common side effects and confirms once again that it’s safe and works well for everyone.

Step 4: Continue to Check Safety & Effectiveness:

Even after researchers have answered the big questions, they keep studying the vaccine. They gather longer-term data to make sure the vaccine continues to work well.

Sometimes, when a vaccine is urgently needed, researchers combine steps to speed up the approval process. This doesn’t mean that they’re skipping any important steps. It does mean researchers and public health organizations are working together at an extraordinary level to get a safe, e­ffective vaccine to the people who need it the most.

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Free?

COVID-19 vaccines are provided to Vermonters at no cost, even if you don’t have health insurance. The provider that gives you your vaccine may charge an administrative fee to your insurance, but you are guaranteed a COVID-19 vaccine without paying a fee.

More vaccine resources