Message from the CEO: A Sense of Spring

With March now well underway, so too is the march toward a vaccinated Vermont. More than one fifth of Vermonters have received at least one vaccine dose. Nationally, the pace of distribution and administration quickens by the day. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine offers not only another source but one that can reach more populations, since it is not as challenging to store.

This week, teachers and those with high-risk conditions will begin to be vaccinated in our state. As my VAHHS colleague Emma Harrigan pointed out in her column last week, and as Gov. Scott and others have recently described, children need to be in school. Vaccinating educators and daycare staff not only gets kids back to school, but also fuels our economy.

Now that nursing home residents and people over 70 have been vaccinated at high rates, people who have underlying health conditions are eligible beginning this week. From there, the pace will only speed up as the supply chain improves and Vermont’s collaborative network of vaccine providers stands more and more ready for new doses.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Senate passed the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion relief bill that includes resources for COVID testing, vaccine distribution, health insurance coverage and grants for work in mental health and substance use disorder. There is lots more, including of course major help for  families, states and local communities.

As the House of Representatives takes up the Senate bill in Washington, our legislature in Vermont will return too, following a break last week. On deck are state COVID relief, the Interstate Nursing Licensure Compact and other important priorities, including a prohibition on guns in hospitals.

As committees re-convene and the two legislative bodies prepare for crossover, VAHHS will continue to encourage state support for workforce expansion, health disparity research, mental health resources and COVID relief that assists health care providers and Vermont communities and individuals.

With the sun shining bright a little more often, and vaccines flowing a little more readily, spring feels closer each day. If we stay on our current course here in Vermont, and don’t lose patience too soon with still-critical prevention measures, we will see a spring that truly fits the season’s definition.