MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermonters aged 65 and older can now make appointments to get their COVID-19 vaccinations at Walgreens pharmacies, the Vermont Department of Health said Thursday.

Walgreens received an unexpected 4,300 first doses of the vaccine for Vermonters through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, the state said.

So starting Thursday, Vermonters aged 65 and over can sign up to be vaccinated. People can sign up online  or call Walgreens.

The Health Department announced earlier this week that Vermonters aged 65 and over will be able to begin making vaccination appointments on March 1.

The Walgreens appointments come in addition to the appointments that newly eligible Vermonters can begin to make on Monday.

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FIREFIGHTERS VACCINATED

Firefighters in the Vermont town of Rutland won't be required to be vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19, town officials decided.

The town board of health voted earlier this month to not require members of the town fire department to be vaccinated, although if they wish to participate in fire department activities, they must follow safety protocols as outlined by the fire chief.

Selectman John Paul Faignant, who is also the town health officer, tells the Rutland Herald  the majority of the department's members have been vaccinated.

"I know the ones that haven't. They all have pretty good reasons," he said.

Members who opt not to get the vaccine must follow extra safety measures, such as temperature checks and signing in when they go to the station, he said.

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NUMBERS

On Thursday, the Vermont Department of Health reported 66 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to almost 14,850.

There were 28 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 11 in intensive care.

Two more deaths were reported, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to 203.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 113.29 new cases per day on Feb. 10 to 110.29 new cases per day on Feb. 24.

The latest average positivity rate in Vermont is 1.72%. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Vermont, the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test specimens using data from The COVID Tracking Project.

The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 1.66% on Feb. 10 to 1.72% on Feb. 24.

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