COVID-19 Vaccine Info for the Bennington Region

Beginning January 25, 2021, Vermont residents 75 years and older can register for the COVID-19 vaccine. ​

  • Starting Monday, January 25, Vermonters who are 75 and older will be able to schedule their vaccination online and by phone with the state of Vermont. The website and phone number will be released on or before January 25, and will not work until January 25.
  • Once published by the state, we will post the website address and phone number here.
  • Vaccine clinics will start on January 27. 
  • 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.
  • Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) is working with the state and the Department of Health on a site for Bennington County.
  • As we deploy the vaccine, please know that: 
  1. Everyone is required to schedule a vaccine appointment through Vermont’s system.
  2. No walk-ins will be permitted.
  3. High call volume is expected, and we encourage to schedule your vaccine appointment online once the website is live.
  4. The state warns that the process may be slow, as the number of vaccine doses are still limited.
  5. Residents 75 years and older from nearby New York and Massachusetts that are patients of a Bennington County primary care provider can schedule a vaccination in the state's system.

Vermonters who are 75 years and older and you will need to provide your primary address. However, if you live in another state, you can still get a vaccine in Vermont if:

  1. You work in Vermont.
  2. Your primary health care provider is in Vermont.
  3. You moved to Vermont within the last six (6) months with the intention of becoming a resident. 

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

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.

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

We will post detailed information early next week. 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.

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. There have been no major adverse reactions. 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%)

Yes. People who get the vaccine should continue taking steps to prevent COVID-19. This is because even if the vaccine protects you from illness, we still don’t have enough information on whether you could still transmit the virus to someone else. Even once we do learn this, there are a number of things we need to know before we can ease up on things like mask-wearing and physical distancing, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities. Together, the vaccine and those preventive actions are the best ways to keep from getting and spreading COVID-19.

Years of research into vaccines have brought us to where we are today. Researchers began working on vaccines for earlier versions of the coronavirus starting with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) 2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012. When these viruses disappeared, interest in finding a coronavirus vaccine decreased. Lessons learned from this earlier vaccine research have been used to inform strategies for developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Now the global focus on eliminating this new coronavirus and ending the pandemic, combined with funding has 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.

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.

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