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Vermont's COVID booster uptake is outpacing national average

In addition to “widespread” flu outbreaks across the country this winter, the flu vaccine is only about 30 percent effective this year, according to Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.
Toby Talbot
To date, 16% of eligible Vermonters over the age of 12 have gotten the new COVID-19 booster vaccine. That's compared to just 4% nationally.

State officials say Vermonters are choosing to get the updated COVID booster shot at a rate that far exceeds the national average.

To date, 16% of eligible Vermonters over the age of 12 have gotten the new vaccine.

The bivalent booster, which was made available last month by both Pfizer and Moderna, is formulated to both boost protection that has waned from previous vaccines and counter the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants, which are the most common strains currently circulating.

Nationally, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows just 4% of eligible Americans have gotten the new booster.

"I think fundamentally Vermonters tend to be really conscientious," said Monica Ogelby, chief of Vermont's immunization program at the health department. "I think they have a deep regard and appreciation for public health and that was true even in advance of the pandemic and certainly even more so now."

A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nationally, 20% of Americans hadn't heard anything about the new booster and another 31% hadn't heard much.

On Wednesday, federal agencies approved updated COVID-19 boosters for children as young as 5.

More from VPR News: Omicron boosters for kids 5-12 are cleared by the CDC

Vermont officials say they expect shots for younger residents will be soon available in Vermont at walk in clinics and pediatricians' offices.

Ogelby said getting boosted is the best tool the state has to protect against an expected winter wave.

"Really the best way for us to really try to keep this tampered down, and prevent the spread, and prevent long term side effects and negative impacts for us and our loved ones is to get vaccinated because we do see this virus continuing to mutate it's smart," she said.

Have questions, comments, or concerns? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Bob Kinzel:

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."