By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – New Hampshire will offer vaccines to anyone 16 years of age and older regardless of their residency, and will begin taking appointments for all beginning April 19, Gov. Chris Sununu said at his news conference on Thursday.
Sununu said New Hampshire citizens still have 10 days to make sure they are prioritized. He said he has no idea how many people will come from out of state, but said there are about a quarter-million appointments still available before June and already close to 60 percent of the state’s eligible residents have already made appointments to be vaccinated or are already vaccinated.
“We just have so much more available so we want to give it out,” Sununu said.
People can find information on how to register at vaccines.nh.gov.
This resolves an issue Sununu has been facing after he said out-of-state students here at colleges and prep schools could not access the vaccines.
Sununu said he expects another 10,000 people will receive the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine with him this weekend when he gets his shot and noted additional opportunities for 4,500 to get a single dose vaccine appointment in Salem, Concord, and Newington are close to filling up.
“We have got a huge influx of (the single dose) and we want to get it out quickly,” Sununu said.
However, he said he was told by the Biden Administration that they overestimated the number of future doses of that vaccine and the state is likely to see far fewer in the weeks ahead. Rather than getting 2,500 a week, he expects it to go to 900 in the following weeks.
“That’s OK. We are already ahead of the game,” said Sununu.
All states are in the same situation, he said, because distribution is based on population. This is the limiting factor the governor stressed in getting the state fully vaccinated.
Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist, said there is a continued upward trend of new COVID-19 cases, more hospitalizations and he reported one new death of a resident who was not associated with a long-term care facility Thursday, for a total of 1,251 deaths.
Chan said the state was reporting 515 new cases of the virus and over the past week has been averaging over 400 new infections each day. The number of active cases has climbed again to 3,585 and the positivity rate is slowly creeping up to about 5 percent. As of Thursday, there were 102 people hospitalized, a number that was also on the increase, he said.
“The numbers point still to the fact that community spread of COVID-19 is increasing,” Chan stressed. He said the state continues to tell people to use face masks, social distancing, and get vaccinated at the earliest possible appointment.
Sununu noted that he has moved up his vaccination date and will be vaccinated on Saturday.
Dr. Beth Daly, chief of the state’s Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, said 745,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state including 36 percent of the population getting their first and about 20 percent who are now fully vaccinated. The state received over 65,000 doses last week and there are now around 100 different sites to get vaccinated in the state, including 86 pharmacy locations.
She noted that since last week when the vaccine was offered to all residents 16 and up, more than 200,000 people registered, and when that is considered, she said about 60 percent have made the choice to get vaccinated.
Lori Shibinette, Health and Human Services commissioner, said as of Thursday the state was closing one outbreak of three or more cases of the virus at Granite Recovery Center leaving only four long-term care facilities, two nursing homes, and two correctional facilities in outbreak status. She said there were no new outbreaks to report this week.