Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) this week condemned the “racist” response he received when the state prioritized COVID-19 vaccines for minority communities.
Scott issued a statement Monday defending the state’s decision to prioritize blacks, Native Americans and other people of color for vaccines. Vermont is currently limiting widespread eligibility for the vaccine to people 40 and older, but on Thursday it opened eligibility to people of color 16 and older.
Governor First Announced Eligibility Decision Last Tuesday as an effort to narrow the gap in vaccination rates between people of color and white populations. He said that 20.2 percent of people in minority communities had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, compared to 33.4 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
However, Scott said Monday that his office and the Vermont Department of Health have been subjected to “hate attacks” over the decision.
“The legacy of racism in the United States and in Vermont still generates a lot of anger and fear. Recently, my office, the Department of Health and the working people who vaccinated us have been the subject of scathing and inappropriate comments on social media and other forums regarding this decision, ”he said.
“This is also unacceptable. And it is evidence that many Americans, and many Vermont residents, still have much to learn about the impacts of racism in our country and how it has influenced public policy over the years, “he continued.
Scott added that there was no excuse to attack other residents, especially with “comments that included racist insults.” He noted that hateful words and prejudice can end tragically.
Words matter. I encourage everyone to consider the meaning of their words from someone else’s point of view, as well as the consequences of how our own words can affect the well-being of others, ”Scott said.
“At a time when technology is one of the only ways that many can stay connected, I implore all of us to respect each other,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long recognized that communities of color are in higher risk of experiencing severe outcomes due to COVID-19 compared to non-Hispanic white populations.
However, among those who have received at least one dose of vaccine, 65.7 percent are white, according to CDC data, far surpassing communities of color.