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Vermont continues to lead nation in many COVID categories

A passenger, right, gets off the Amtrak Vermonter passenger train after it arrived at the Montpelier station, in Berlin, Vt., Monday July 19, 2021. Celebrations were held at Amtrak stations across the state to mark the return of the passenger trains to Vermont for the first time since they were suspended at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A passenger, right, gets off the Amtrak Vermonter passenger train after it arrived at the Montpelier station, in Berlin, Vt., Monday July 19, 2021. Celebrations were held at Amtrak stations across the state to mark the return of the passenger trains to Vermont for the first time since they were suspended at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.Wilson Ring/Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont is continuing to lead the country with the highest percentage of its eligible population vaccinated against COVID-19 and a number of other categories, but the state is still urging people to get vaccinated, officials said Tuesday.

Speaking at the regular weekly COVID-19 briefing, Republican Gov. Phil Scott said almost 84% of Vermonters 12 and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine and about 75% of that population is fully vaccinated.

"We are not letting up," Scott said. “What we are seeing across the country shows exactly why we can’t.”

While the number of COVID-19 cases in Vermont is still low, they are going up, largely driven by the so-called delta variant of the virus, which is significantly more transmissible than earlier versions of the virus.

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In recent weeks places across the country with low vaccination rates have seen dramatic increases in the number of new cases of COVID-19, largely fueled by the delta variant.

The vaccines are proving effective against the delta variant and other versions of the virus, so Vermont is continuing its efforts to make it easy for people to get vaccinated. Walk-in vaccination clinics are continuing to be offered at numerous locations across the state every day.

While a small percentage of the population has a strong philosophical objection to the vaccine, a larger group of the unvaccinated are those who haven’t given much thought to getting vaccinated — a category sometimes called “vaccine apathetic,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said during the briefing.

“The reality is we've brought the vaccine to places where I don't think other states have even dreamed you could do that,” Levine said. “Now we are finding that some of them are trying to mirror what we've done here.”

The “barnstorming approach” that enlists help from local officials and emergency medical services officials has been effective in rural Vermont. Vaccines are sometimes offered at employers’ places of business.

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