CONCORD — With at least 60 percent of the state’s eligible population having already chosen to get a COVID-19 vaccine, demand for the shots is going down precipitously, state officials said at Gov. Chris Sununu’s press conference Thursday.

Sununu said the focus now is to convince the rest of the population to do the same while returning state offices and businesses back to pre-pandemic normal.

The state has among the nation’s highest vaccination rates and while that is great, Sununu said, thousands of appointments were still available at planned weekend vaccination sites in Concord, Nashua and Newington in the former Sears department stores.

Dr. Benjamin Chan, the state epidemiologist, said there were 298 new cases of the coronavirus in the state on Thursday, down from last week bringing the total number of active cases to 2,610. The numbers continued to drop over the weekend, and the state reported 161 new cases on Monday. Hospitalizations have also been dropping; there are currently 80 people hospitalized with COVID-19. A total of 1,305 New Hampshire residents have died so far from the virus. 

Chan urged people to continue to practice social distancing, wear masks and to get vaccinated if they have not been already done so. 

Dr. Beth Daly, head of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at the Department of Health and Human Services, said there have now been 1,093,000 vaccines delivered with 687,000 people receiving at least their first dose and about one-third of the state’s population fully vaccinated.

Daly said she knows some people might be unsure about whether to get the vaccine, but she noted that they are all safe, and will help everyone return to normal, and are better than no vaccine at all. She said no shortcuts were taken to create the vaccines and they underwent rigorous scrutiny. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccines because they were not made with live viruses. If you had COVID-19, the vaccine will boost your immunity to get it again, she said. And side effects are minor and temporary.

Getting the vaccine might also help younger people avoid what is called “long COVID” which lasts for months. That is avoidable by getting the vaccine, Chan said. Also having the vaccine allows people to avoid having to quarantine for 14 days if they are exposed to the virus.

 

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