People wait for their turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, right, as public health experts with the Vermont Health Department begin vaccinating people aged 75 and older on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, at the Hazen Union High School in Hardwick, Vt. Credit: Wilson Ring / AP

HARDWICK, Vt. — The COVID-19 vaccination program for Vermonters who are 75 or older began Wednesday at a number of clinics and pharmacies across the state.

Registration opened on Monday for people in the 1B priority group and more than 20,000 people signed up. Wednesday was when the actual vaccinations began.

A clinic held in the gymnasium at Hazen Union High School in Hardwick gave its first inoculation around 9 a.m. There were three vaccination stations and they hope to vaccinate 150 people the first day, said Valerie Valcour, the public health nurse running the clinic.

“We are working through some of the little kinks, but I think it’s working smoothly overall,’ she said.

There are an estimated 49,000 people in Vermont who are over 75.

State officials are encouraging people to sign up online if they are able, even urging friends and relatives to help them. There is a call center where people can call to make a reservation, but officials warn the wait times could be long.

The first phase of the vaccination program was for health care providers and people in long-term care facilities.

The Vermont Health Department says more than 44,000 people, just under 8 percent of the state population over age 16, have received the first dose of the vaccine. Both vaccines in use require two shots to be fully effective.