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Porter frontline workers vaccinated

DR. ERIC BENZ can feel the strength course through his body as he receives the COVID-19 vaccine recently. He got one of more than 760 doses that Porter Hospital has administered in the past three weeks. Porter will have put around 1,000 shots in arms by the end of this week.

MIDDLEBURY — By the end of this week, Porter Hospital will have given out a combined total of 1,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to its staff and other frontline healthcare workers, though state and federal authorities have yet to indicate when the vaccine will be available to the general public.
“We want to remind folks that it’s not time for them to call us, at this point,” Porter Medical Center spokesman Ron Hallman said. “We want folks to know that calling us at this point is really not a plan. We pledge we’ll share information the minute we have it, through all of our social media channels, our website, and the Addison Independent.”
As the Independent went to press on Wednesday, Porter had vaccinated more than 70% of its workforce, with an emphasis on employees who deal with — or are exposed to — potentially infected patients on a regular basis, according to Porter Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anna Benvenuto.
She also reported “we have done nearly all the residents at Helen Porter (Rehabilitation & Nursing), and a majority of their staff.”
In addition, PMC officials have begun vaccinating workers at Addison County Home Health & Hospice, local EMS first responders, employees at primary care offices, dental office personnel, “as well as others providing direct patient care to people in our community,” according to Benvenuto.
And the hospital this week began planning vaccination clinics for area law enforcement officers and firefighters.
“Just today, I received the ‘points of contact’ and rosters for Addison County fire department personnel and law enforcement agencies,” PMC Emergency Management Director Michael Leyden said. “In fact today we were able to start scheduling law enforcement and are teed up for additional outreach with the fire departments.”
Indeed, Porter has been picking up the pace of its vaccine schedule, which involves products from Pfizer and Moderna. Benvenuto said hospital officials have administered 761 doses during the past three weeks, with another 250 expected to have been given Wednesday through Thursday.
“We have had only a “handful” of staff who have either declined or deferred at this time for either personal or medical reasons,” Hallman said.
Both vaccines have been deemed more that 94% effective in staving off the coronavirus, and both require the recipient to receive two doses. In the case of the Pfizer vaccine, the shots are taken 21 days apart. It’s 28 days apart with the Moderna vaccine.
Vermont Department of Health (DOH) officials have said people aged 75 and older should get the vaccine first, once it’s rolled out to the general public. Then it’s on to folks 70 and older, then 65-plus.
“Based on what we know now about how much vaccine Vermont will get from the federal government, it will probably take until spring to finish these groups,” according to the DOH website’s coronavirus page that can be access at tinyurl.com/y287vc44. “This is an estimated plan and timeframe that could shift based on how much vaccine Vermont receives and how many people choose to get vaccinated when they are eligible.”
At Gov. Phil Scott’s weekly COVID-19 press conference on Tuesday, DOH officials said they expected to release more information on their vaccination plan on Friday.
For vaccine updates, keep an eye on any of these three websites: portermedical.org/coronavirus, the DOH’s COVID-19 webpage at tinyurl.com/y287vc44, and addisonindependent.com.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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