Vermont GOP governor opens up COVID vaccines for those who identify as Black, Indigenous or person of color

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Republican Gov. Phil Scott tweeted about the move on Thursday

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April 2, 2021

Vermont is opening up coronavirus vaccine eligiblity to anyone over 16 years of age who identifies as Black, Indigenous or a person of color — prompting fierce criticism online for excluding White people.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott tweeted about the move on Thursday as states gradually opened eligibility to various populations. So far, the process has tended to focus on people who are vulnerable because of their occupation, age or health status.

“If you or anyone in your household identifies as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color (BIPOC), including anyone with Abenaki or other First Nations heritage, all household members who are 16 years or older can sign up to get a vaccine!” Scott tweeted.

The state’s website advertises “BIPOC household focused clinics” in Northern and Southern Vermont. For the Burlington area, the state offers a vaccination form that specifies eligibility is for BIPOC individuals and members of their household. The first question asks: “Do you identify as Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color (BIPOC)? This includes anyone who is non-white.”

Other eligibility categories include people 50 years and older, people 16 years or older with high-risk health conditions, English language learners and people in immigrant/refugee communities, health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities, people who work in the public safety system and school staff and child care workers. The immigrant/refugee category similarly offers “community-specific clinics.”

The categories link to a site describing the state’s strategy of “working toward equity.”

“We still have much more to do to address the significant disparities in the rates of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death among Vermonters who are Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC),” the website reads. “Right now we are working with funded community partners to understand the barriers that might limit vaccine access for BIPOC Vermonters, as these require unique public health solutions.”

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