World’s safest place? Vermont leads US vaccine race – News Vibe24

    World's safest place? Vermont leads US vaccine race - Times of India
    BURLINGTON: Vermont – known for Bernie Sanders, maple syrup and the birthplace of Ben and Jerry ice cream – has a new claim to fame: America’s most vaccinated state against Covid-19.
    Home to red farmhouses and signs warning elk drivers, the second least populous U.S. state recently became the first to partially vaccinate 80% of eligible residents.
    “It makes us probably the safest place in the country and maybe in the world,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, who heads top US pandemic adviser Anthony Fauci in his office.
    The rural, northeastern state has given at least one vaccine to 82 percent of residents aged 12 and over, well above the U.S. national rate of 64 percent.
    Its vaccination rate is more than double that of the state of Mississippi with the worst performance.
    Officials and locals believe Vermont’s success in extensive vaccine clinics, trust in political leaders and the science and strong sense of responsibility of residents in their community.
    “The Vermonters prioritize their health, which is a good starting point,” Levin told AFP at the State Health Department in Burlington on Lake Chablin.
    “And based on that, the Vermonters are very cooperative and compliant,” he added, citing a tradition of city meetings and “urban involvement” across New England, including Maine and Massachusetts where vaccine rates are also high.
    Vermont, which has a population of 94% white and has one of the highest levels of education in the United States, has recorded only about 250 deaths from Covid-19.
    The United States has suffered more than 605,000 Covid-related deaths in all.
    Moderate Republican Gov. Phil Scott left all remaining restrictions when Vermont reached its 80 percent mark last month after the state mask was removed in May.
    Evan David Warner, a gentleman at Burlington Central Church, agrees that Vermont’s narrow population of just 640,000 was the key to a normal life.
    “The Vermonters believe that we all have a responsibility to keep each other safe. It is a social code of ethics,” says the 23-year-old guitarist between songs.
    Vermont’s scattered population and mountainous terrain, popular with hikers in summer and skiers in winter, challenged vaccinators to reach everyone.
    As shootings slowed at key locations, emerging clinics were set up on farms, lakeside beaches, state parks and races to help people in rural areas, including migrant farmers.
    “We realized we had to find them,” explains nurse Ellen Monger, as she waits for walks at a farmers market in Northfield, which has a population of 6,000.
    “Sometimes that means traveling on dirt roads in the middle of nowhere and going to someone’s home where they are home.
    “I have literally gone to places I never expected as a nurse,” he adds, as locals stock up on organic tea, a jar of pickles and freshly picked strawberries.
    Fifteen miles (24 miles) off Websterville, the National Guard administers the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to a staff member at Vermont Creamery.
    The company worked with the military to help increase the vaccination rate of its staff, which fell short of about 55%.
    “We’re just trying to remove any obstacles,” explains marketing director Kate Paine, noting that the company offered free tacos as an added incentive.
    Working hours, homes in remote locations, and childcare responsibilities have made it difficult for staff to find time to get vaccinated.
    “It was the convenience of convenience,” says 30-year-old fresh cheese supervisor Jason Stride, explaining his reason for vaccinating at work.
    Back in Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, the high vaccination rate is a relief for locals and businesses alike.
    “It’s great to see normal, smiling faces around,” says clothing store worker Aida Arms.
    “There is also financial support accompanied by a higher vaccination rate,” the 21-year-old added.
    Vermont has not offered significant incentives for vaccinations, says Health Commissioner Levine.
    There are no lotteries like those found in other states. just the weird soft-serve ice cream locally known as “creamees”.
    He believes that “apathy”, not the reluctance of the vaccine, leads to reservations.
    But he is determined to get shots in their arms, especially with anxiety around virus mutations such as the Delta variant.
    “Persistence: another good value in New England,” he says.

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