The Integrated Arts Academy in Burlington’s Old North End was the site of the city’s first state-run vaccination clinic Wednesday. Google photo

BURLINGTON — Burlington has opened its first state-run Covid-19 vaccination site for people age 75 and older — the first general populace group to become eligible for the vaccine. 

And so far, one of every 10 Chittenden County residents has received at least one dose of the two-part vaccine, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger confirmed at a press conference Wednesday. That’s the highest vaccination percentage among the state’s 14 counties; the vaccine success has largely been driven by the high presence of health care and long-term care facilities in the county, Weinberger said

“There is still clearly a long way to go,” Weinberger said. “But being one-tenth of the way there, especially that one-tenth being the highest-risk members of the state, is a real sign of progress.” 

The new vaccination site opened Wednesday at the Integrated Arts Academy in the Old North End. Because the school is closed on Wednesdays for remote learning, that’s when the clinic will take place, with the next one set for Feb. 3.

Weinberger said he spoke with Heather Dennis, a district director with the Vermont Department of Health who is overseeing the Burlington vaccination site. She told him that, as the location opened Wednesday morning, staff members had tears in their eyes and broke into applause as the first patients rolled in. 

No walk-ins are accepted at the vaccination sites; people 75 and older can sign up for an appointment on the Health Department’s website. As of today, Weinberger reported, 29,000 people had signed up; about 50,000 Vermonters are 75 or older. 

So far, there’s only one vaccination location in Burlington, but the city’s chief innovation officer, Brian Lowe, said another should open soon in Winooski. Kinney Drugs pharmacies are also offering vaccinations, separate from the state’s registration website, but Weinberger said most of those appointments have already been filled. 

There have been some instances across the country where extra doses of the vaccine have become available at pharmacies or government sites due to missed appointments. However, “people should not just show up and hope there’s going to be any sort of leftovers,” Weinberger said of the Burlington site. “It’s not going to work that way.” 

He said Dennis has a plan: The clinic has a list of people to call who are next in line. Any leftover doses will go to them first, he said. 

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If any residents have trouble making a vaccination appointment or traveling to the site, they can contact the city’s Resource and Recovery Center at 802-755-7239. 

Covid-19 cases in the county have continued to dip over the past couple of weeks. Today, 17 new cases were reported in the county, compared to a 77-case one-day high in mid-January. So far, no signs of the more contagious variant of Covid-19 have been found through testing in the city’s sewer system. 

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