BURLINGTON >> Vermont's health security preparedness is among the highest in the nation, according to a new National Health Security Preparedness Index that measures states' ability to prepare for, and respond to, public health threats.

Vermont's overall preparedness score is 7.3 points out of 10, compared to the U.S. national average of 6.7. The rating is an increase from 7.0 in the previous index, published in 2013.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which directs and funds the index, assesses the states on 134 different measures from 50 data sources, including the everyday systems that help keep people safe and healthy. The scores are not intended to be a ranking of the states, because states face varying threats and challenges, and must apply common preparedness practices in ways that are relevant to local and regional needs.

Of the six major categories, Vermont scores increased in four, several significantly above the national average. Scores dipped slightly in two areas. The lowest, 6.3 for Environmental and Occupational Health, was 1/10th of a point below the national average.

"Our preparedness efforts are an on-going and critical aspect of our whole effort to safeguard and promote the health of Vermonters," said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD. "We take our public health protection responsibilities very seriously. I appreciate having this data to help us reinforce what we do well, and as a resource to address areas that need greater focus and improvement."


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"Our experience with emergency response is, of course, not limited to drills and exercises," said Chen. "Vermont has responded, and responds exceedingly well to local and statewide events that threaten health and safety – from Tropical Storm Irene, to tuberculosis exposure, to the current PFOA contamination investigation. This report tells me that, together with our state and community partners, we have a solid foundation to manage health security threats."

To see the full report and related data, visit nhspi.org.