Piper Harrell was sure her husband, Peter Goetz, would get COVID vaccine.
He had diabetes, after all, one of the 10 preexisting conditions listed by the state Department of Health as putting people at higher risk. Then she took a closer look.
He has Type 1, not Type 2, diabetes, meaning he wouldn’t in fact qualify.
“Looking at the list, it was like, you gotta be f-ing kidding me,” Harrell said. “It was like a punch in the gut.”
A lack of prioritization could mean several more months of “living like monks” at their home in Cornwall to protect the 41-year-old Goetz. That means making her middle school daughter stay home from school after a COVID case was reported there, saying no to outings and social get-togethers, Harrell said.
Harrell turned to local activism to promote her cause, writing to the health department, reaching out to Sen. Bernie Sanders, and contacting other Type 1 diabetics. “I’m not asking for a whole other disease to be added” to the prioritization list, she said. “I think it was just overlooked.”
Harrell is one of a number of people questioning the state’s choice of which high-risk Vermonters to prioritize for a vaccine and why. They argue the Department of Health’s list is based more on convenience than on science.