Vermont — A rise in COVID cases in Vermont has been a concern around the state especially as the omicron variant has been identified in New York and New Hampshire.

According to officials, 5% of Vermont adults remain unvaccinated but they’re accounting for the bulk of cases and ICU patients.

In his briefing today, Governor Phil Scott says that unvaccinated Vermonters are the problem and are causing stress on the state’s healthcare system and affecting those who have already done their part in the pandemic.

“The hundreds of thousands of people who did the right thing and therefore are not the problem should not be punished to protect the people who have chosen not to protect themselves,” said Scott.

Unvaccinated people make up more than 70 percent of the cases in Vermont and 75 percent of hospitalizations. Wednesday, December 15, marks one year since the first dose of the vaccine was administered in Vermont. Financial Commissioner Michael Pieciak says data shows the shot has saved the lives of 934 Vermonters.

“It’s still unfortunate that we’ve had those deaths, but it’s impressive when you think about Vermonters stepping up to protect nearly 1,000 Vermonters”.

State leaders say the surge in cases from Thanksgiving is receding, however, higher case counts aren’t going anywhere with Christmas and New Year around the corner.

Health Commissioner Mark Levine says you are not fully protected until you have a third dose and that ‘fully vaccinated’ will soon mean that you have all three.

“We consider the third dose so essential to our future success in Vermont. We are still one of the few states where state-run clinics are in abundance,” said Dr. Levine.