Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said Friday the state would begin Phase 2 of its COVID-19 vaccination plan later this month, making shots available to the general public according to their age group.
In a press conference, Scott said Phase 2 would begin on January 25 and proceed in "age bands." In the first band, residents 75 years and older will be eligible for vaccine shots. That band will be followed by those 65 year and older.
Officials say older residents and those with preexisting conditions are being prioritized in order to bring down the death toll and ease the burden on hospitals.
"This approach is all about vaccinating those most likely to die from COVID, so we can protect them as early as possible," Scott said.
The second phase will come after nursing homes, long-term care facilities and front-line health care workers were prioritized in Phase 1.
Scott said that due to limited supply of the vaccines, each age band in Phase 2 could take several weeks to complete. The first age band is expected to last six weeks, officials said.
"We know many are anxiously waiting for their vaccines, and rightfully so, and we want to get every dose out just as quickly as we possibly can," Scott said. "But with so few doses available, we need everyone to be patient."
Scott warned however, the timeline is subject to change based on the availability of vaccines.
In the third band of Phase 2, vaccinations will be made available to Vermonters aged 18 to 65 with medical conditions putting them at risk of serious COVID-related illness. Such residents include those with cancer, kidney disease, emphysema, some heart conditions, weakened immune system, severe obesity, pregnancy, type 2 diabetes, and Down's Syndrome.
Those wishing to make a vaccination appointment will be able to do so by phone or online. Registration will begin on Jan. 25, and information about registration will be made available later, officials said.
Those who receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will be able to make an appointment for a second shot at the time of their first shot.
Emergency Medical Services workers will administer vaccine shots at home to those who are unable to travel to a vaccination site.
Officials said the state was committed to making available vaccination information and resources to communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including Black and indigenous communities. Such efforts could include making vaccination centers available within walking distance of city centers.
Scott also announced that Phase 2 of the state's sports and recreation guidance, during which limited scrimmages within teams will be allowed, as will the resumption of individual sports such as skiing in small groups.
The state on Thursday reported 142 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total to 9,734. The death toll stands at 163.
Meanwhile, Scott said the state had made preparations to deal with any potential violent protests over the weekend and next week ahead of President-elect Joe Biden inauguration.
Scott said he "sincerely" hoped the state was over-prepared for potential unrest, adding he felt "good" about briefings he has received about Vermont's preparedness.
The Vermont National Guard said Thursday that it will be sending approximately 100 of its soldiers to support operations in Washington ahead of the inauguration.
Officials earlier this week urged residents to give careful consideration before participating in potential armed demonstrations in the run-up to Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.
The plea comes after after the FBI sent an alert to law enforcement agencies warning of calls for "peaceful armed protest" planned at all 50 states' capitols.
During a coronavirus press conference earlier this week, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said there were no specific indications of disruptions anticipated in Vermont. However, he said two days - Jan. 17 and Jan. 20 -- had been identified as days when protests could occur.
"We don't script where and when people can exercise their First Amendment rights, (but) we would ask that people think twice whether these two days... are the right times to do that," he said.
Gov. Phil Scott added, "Don’t be played, don't be used as a pawn by some of these extreme groups that are planning these protests around our nation to undermine our democracy, to overthrow the government,” he said.
The FBI memo included information provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Defense Department; U.S. Park Police; and the U.S. Marshals Service, among other agencies, according to the official. Some of the information came from social media, some from open sources and some from other sources of information.