For Immediate Release: September 11, 2020
Media Contact:

Ben Truman │ Vermont Department of Health
802-951-5153 / 802-863-7281
[email protected]  

Statement by Vermont Commissioner of Health Mark Levine, MD on COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Distribution

BURLINGTON, VT – While we look forward to a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, we hear the fears expressed by many that political pressure is being applied to rush approval of a vaccine before it has been properly tested.

Let me be clear. We stand with science.

The Vermont Department of Health is keeping a close watch on the vaccine development process to be sure we can trust that science – not politics – governs the process.

Even though we do not yet know when a safe and effective vaccine will be widely available, we are doing everything in our power to plan now, so when the vaccine is provided, we will be ready to deliver it to Vermonters quickly and equitably.

This unprecedented global pandemic has all eyes focused on finding a vaccine as quickly as possible. But the tremendous pressure to rapidly do so must not outweigh the importance of its efficacy and safety.

We stand together with health departments across the country, as well as with the national Association of Immunization Managers, in our insistence that any vaccine made available to the public must first meet all U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety standards, and be recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an independent national advisory committee.

In a recent phone call with members of our department, representatives of the FDA, CDC and the Surgeon General’s Office, reaffirmed their commitment to a process that respected scientific integrity and will be trustworthy.

It is my position that we “trust but verify.” All newly developed vaccines must be continually monitored for safety and efficacy. A comprehensive system must be fully utilized to ensure the safety of any COVID-19 vaccine.

As we wait for a vaccine, we must keep up our prevention practices – especially as we come into the fall and flu season: keep those masks on, keep a 6-foot distance, avoid crowded spaces, wash your hands a lot, stay home and away from others when you’re sick.

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