Vermont relaxes COVID-19 restrictions after crossing major vaccine milestone

(New York) — Vermont crossed a major vaccine milestone Monday as more than 80% of the state’s eligible population has at least one shot, according to state health department data.

As of Monday afternoon, over 444,000 Vermont residents over the age of 12 have received at least one vaccine dose, the Vermont Department of Health said. Vermont is the first state to cross this threshold, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gov. Phil Scott celebrated the occasion by bringing the Green Mountain State one step closer to its pre-pandemic life. He signed an order that removed the mandate for masks, social distancing and capacity limits for indoor places.

“Our work continues, but Vermonters can be proud of what they’ve done,” Scott tweeted.

Vermont businesses can still issue COVID-19 related restrictions without any penalty from the state if they wish to do so, according to the governor’s order.

More than 390,000 residents, roughly 70% of the population, are fully vaccinated, according to the Vermont Health Department.

As of Monday, the national average for vaccinations among Americans 12 and up is 61.4% with at least one dose and 51.1% with both doses, according to the CDC. Seven other states have over 70% of their population above the age of 12 with at least one dose, according to the CDC.

Health experts and the governor credited the high vaccination numbers for greatly reducing the number of Vermont coronavirus cases.

Vermont opened up vaccinations to all eligible residents in April. The seven-day average of new cases has dropped from a peak of 213 at the end of March to just eight on June 13, state data showed.

Scott encouraged all eligible residents to get their shots if they haven’t already.

Vermont is following in line with the rest of the nation with declining vaccine demand. The seven-day average of new daily doses administered in the state has shrunk from 8,933 on May 26 to 3,187 on June 14, state data showed.

Three Vermont counties — Essex, Orleans and Caledonia — are the only ones where the rates of eligible residents with one shot are below 70%, according to the state data. Essex County is the lowest with 57% as of Monday.

Anyone who needs help scheduling a free vaccine appointment can log onto vaccines.gov.

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