BENNINGTON — People eligible to receive a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can receive the shot at the Southwestern Vermont Health Care COVID-19 Resource Center, located on the former campus of Southern Vermont College at 982 Mansion Drive in Bennington.
“While our region is faring better than other parts of the country, testing, vaccination, and booster injections are critical to reducing transmission of the virus,” said Dr. Trey Dobson, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center’s chief medical officer and an emergency medicine physician with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. “These services offered at the center are essential for a rapid return to a highly functioning society uninhibited by mitigation measures and frequent school and work absence due to disease.”
To be eligible, an individual must have received their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least 6 months ago. In addition, they must meet one of the following criteria — be at least 65 or older, reside in a long-term care facility, be 18 and older and at high risk of severe COVID-19, be 18 and older and work in high-risk occupations, or meet specific eligibility criteria, including conditions and occupations that qualify someone to receive a booster. These are listed in the FAQ section of svhealthcare.org/COVID-Resource-Center.
Those who received initial doses of Moderna or Johnson & Johnson are not eligible for booster shots at this time.
Individuals may schedule an appointment for their booster at the Vermont Department of Health website. The link to registration — along with further information on all of the services provided at the center — is available at svhealthcare.org/COVID-Resource-Center.
The SVMC COVID-19 Resource Center hours of operation are listed on the website. They are open from noon to 6 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
Flu vaccines are also available at the COVID-19 Resource Center. No appointment is necessary, and flu vaccines will be provided to anyone ages 5 and older. Flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered on the same visit and do not need to be given at different times.
“Flu is already present in our community. We anticipate that people will experience far more respiratory illness, including the flu, this year compared to last year,” said Dr. Marie George, the infectious disease specialist at SVMC. “The flu shot is your best prevention against a severe case of the flu.”
People who have not yet been vaccinated for COVID-19 are encouraged to get vaccinated. The link to schedule is at svhealthcare.org/COVID-Resource-Center.
Tests for COVID-19 are available at the COVID-19 Resource Center, and appointments can be made online at svhealthcare.org/COVID-Resource-Center. While appointments are preferred, tests are also provided without an appointment. People with appointments can expect a shorter wait.
Those who have questions about whether they should get tested can visit the frequently asked questions tab or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 802-440-8844. Results are available within 24 hours and often in as little as eight hours.
“I urge everyone to continue practicing mitigation measures, including staying home when sick, washing hands frequently, and wearing a mask when indoors with unvaccinated people,” Dobson said.
“We should soon be seeing a steady decline in the prevalence of viral transmission and a greater percentage of the population fully vaccinated, including children, allowing vaccinated individuals to safely eliminate the use of masks and distancing in most public areas.”