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08/13/2021

Pharmacies at the forefront of Vermont's vaccine effort

The state has fully vaccinated 66.2% of its total population, including 76.5% of people aged 18 years old and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of July 9.

Vermont has been a leader in the vaccine rollout and retail pharmacies have been at the forefront of that effort from the time the vaccines became available.

The state has fully vaccinated 66.2% of its total population, including 76.5% of people aged 18 years old and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of July 9.

Transmission of the virus has been low, with only half a dozen new cases per 100,000 population in the week ending July 9.

“As a Vermonter, I am really grateful with how successful the vaccine rollout has been in our state,” said Lauren Bode, interim executive director at the Vermont Pharmacists Association. “I can’t overstate how much work pharmacists have been doing in the state to make the vaccine rollout a success.”

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Bode said she feels that Vermonters are eagerly returning to their pre-pandemic activities, thanks to the success of the vaccine rollout.

“The pandemic feels pretty close to over in Vermont,” she said. “Stores and restaurants are busy. I see a lot of places hiring, and I see people working.”

Vermont's Q1 2021 GDP Rose 6.1% from Q4 2020
—Bureau of Labor Statistics

Vermont, which has the nation’s smallest economy, also has one of the lowest unemployment rates. It was reported at 3.1% in June, compared with 5.9% for the United States as a whole.

The economic recovery in Vermont is proceeding slowly, the Vermont Department of Labor reported.

“Unlike the decline, which was sharp and abrupt, the economic recovery continues to slowly gain back what was lost,” Michael Harrington, Vermont labor commissioner, said in a statement. “The size of the labor force and the number of filled positions in the Vermont economy continue to grow. Vermont businesses are reporting high levels of open positions.”

In a recent report on the Burlington commercial real estate market, Kendra Kenney, a broker with Pomerleau Real Estate in Burlington, said retail space has been starting to bounce back.

“We are seeing both local and national groups reentering the market and ready to sign on for long-term leases,” she said.

[Related Content: Oregon awaits manufacturing rebound after strong vaccination showing]

Citing data from a June 2021 market report from Allen, Brooks & Minor, Kenney said vacancy rates in Burlington’s central business district have fallen from 8.3% in December of last year to 7.9%, and that the suburban commercial real estate market is also “starting to stabilize.”

Among new food and drug stores that have opened in Vermont was a Hannaford in South Burlington, which was forced to have a subdued grand opening as it coincided with the beginning of the pandemic last March.

Meanwhile Schenectady, N.Y.-based Price Chopper, which operates 15 locations in Vermont, agreed earlier this year to merge with Tops, which has three stores in the state. Both chains operate in-store pharmacies. Included among Price Chopper’s locations are two of its new Market 32 formats — one each in Brattleboro and Burlington — which feature a new, modern look and expanded food service, among other changes.

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