CONCORD — New Hampshire is getting more vaccine doses from the federal government, and a new partnership with Walgreens will also add to the available supply, said Gov. Chris Sununu.
Sununu announced the Walgreens partnership Tuesday at his COVID-19 update press conference. Walgreens, through a federal program, will start supplying the state with 3,400 sides per week. People who are in line for the vaccines can get the doses at one of the Walgreens outlets in the state.
New Hampshire is also getting more supply in the coming weeks from the federal government, he said.
“We are going to get a little more vaccine in the coming weeks,” Sununu said.
The state will work with Walgreens to get people at the back of the phase 1B line moved up.
Sununu said the state has rebounded from a scheduling snafu last week when people were unable to get an appointment scheduled for their second vaccine dose. People who get their first dose are now automatically scheduled for the second dose, he said.
“We’re definitely turning in the right direction in a variety of areas,” Sununu said.
Sununu said New Hampshire is better than the national average when it comes to the percentage of the population that has been administered at least one dose when asked why the Granite State lags behind most of the New England states.
“Every state has somewhat different dynamics,” he said. “I think we’re doing a pretty darn good job administering it.”
New Hampshire is currently 38th in first dose vaccinations, according to The New York Times and 39th by The Washington Post.
Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, said the number of cases and hospitalizations are trending down. He reported 421 new cases and 3,170 active cases, as well as 159 hospitalizations. There were three reported deaths, one at a long-term care facility.
Chan stressed that even as more people get the vaccine, social distancing and mask wearing will be needed for some time.
“Please continue to wear facemasks,” Chan said.
So far, the state has administered 123,000 first doses, and another 49,000 second doses of the vaccine, according to Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control Dr. Elizabeth Daly. People in phase 1B could all be vaccinated by the end of March, with phase 2A starting in the next eight to nine weeks.
Asked why there still appears to be a problem getting the vaccines administered through the regional public health network mobile sites, Daly said those networks cannot get the vaccines out as quickly as the other state sites.
The networks involve going out and finding people in the community to vaccinate, rather than the rest of the state where people contact the state for appointments.
“They have a harder job to do of working in their communities,” Daly said.
She also said the report showing a large number of unused vaccines was a snapshot in time, and the program had recently acquired a batch of vaccines when the report was done.
Sununu said the state will continue to be aggressive when it comes to administering the vaccine. As more vaccines come online, it will be important for people to get the shots. The vaccines are safe and effective, despite a few reports of side-effects, Sununu said.
“The amount of issues that stem from the vaccine are very, very minimal,” Sununu said.
Chan said that the three more infectious variants found in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil are a concern, and reason for people to continue to take all appropriate precautions like mask wearing, and avoiding unnecessary travel. None of the new strains have yet been found in New Hampshire.