Leahy Announces $9.5 Million CDC Grant To Improve Tracking and Prevention Of Opioid-Related Overdoses in Vermont

BURLINGTON, Vt. (TUESDAY, Sept. 3, 2019) -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tuesday announced that the Vermont Department of Health will receive a three-year, $9.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support a comprehensive statewide response to opioid-related overdoses, while strengthening Vermont’s prevention efforts.

The grant will increase the state’s ability to track and respond to overdoses, including those resulting in death; strengthen Vermont’s Prescription Drug Monitoring System, and provide overdose prevention trainings around the state, working with local communities – including libraries -- to better identify overdose risks and strengthen outreach efforts.

Leahy said: “I’m proud of the work our state has done to tackle to the opioid epidemic. This grant will enable the Vermont Department of Health and its partners to take that work to the next level, responding in real time to overdose cases and supporting prevention efforts in our communities.We know what works, but we must make sure that knowledge is reaching even our smallest towns and villages.The risks posed by opioids knows no bounds.”

“The opioid crisis is the most complex public health challenge of our time,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD.“Over the past five years we have built a strong intervention, prevention and treatment infrastructure for getting Vermonters the supports and services they need. With thanks to Senator Leahy, this grant will allow us to ensure our prevention programming and policies are driven by the most comprehensive and current data available.”

The CDC grant, nearly $3.2 million a year over three years, will also allow the Health Department to conduct a thorough review of 2018 drug-related fatalities and see where those who died had previous interactions with state systems.Vermont recorded 110 opioid-related deaths in 2018, up slightly from 108 deaths in 2017.

Collecting and sharing information on overdose cases in a timely manner can also result in public warnings where one community may be experiencing a highly lethal strain of fentanyl or heroin, Leahy noted.

“We know we cannot rid our communities of these deadly drugs, but we know that sounding the alarm early can often save lives,” said Leahy, who worked to include $475 million in the 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services spending bill in support of the CDC’s overdose prevention work.

(See Health Department handout for specifics on how the grant will be administered in Vermont)

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