Vermont (WPTZ) — Last week, Gov. Phil Scott opened vaccinations to people who identify as Black, Indigenous or a person of color.
On Tuesday, he defended his decision after receiving sharp criticism from people all over the country.
Scott’s press secretary, Jason Maulucci, says besides the thousands of social media messages, there’s also been hundreds of calls and emails sent to Scott’s office. He says many of them have been coming from out of state.
“It really had nothing to do with anything else other than we knew that those in the BIPOC community were more susceptible to the disease,” Scott said on Tuesday.
“The rate of cases in the BIPOC community has been disproportionate to the size of that community in Vermont and disproportionate to white, non-Hispanics,” says Vermont’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Mark Levine.
Scott fired back at critics, in a statement Monday, reading in part: “Unfortunately, the legacy of racism in America, and in Vermont, still drives a lot of anger and fear. Recently, my office, the Health Department and those hardworking individuals getting us vaccinated have been subjected to vitriolic and inappropriate comments in social media and other forums regarding this decision.
“This too is unacceptable. And it is evidence that many Americans, and many Vermonters, still have a lot to learn about the impacts of racism in our country and how it has influenced public policy over the years.”
Critics of the decision, have raised questions about whether or not allowing people of color in the state to have vaccine priority is constitutional.
Vermont Law School professor, Jared Carter, believes it is constitutional, “the question really is: does Vermont have a compelling interest as a state, in prioritizing BIPOC community members, and I think the answer to that is clearly yes,” he says.
All Vermont adults will become eligible for a vaccine by April 19.
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