Written by: Senator Whitley
Like many of you, I have been watching the COVID-19 vaccine distribution in New Hampshire very closely. The speed and efficiency of the vaccine distribution impacts so much – the safety of our frontline workers, when our children can go back to school, when we can hug our parents and grandparents again, and when and when our small businesses can fully reopen and begin the task of rebuilding.
On Friday, several of my Senate colleagues and I met with Perry Plummer, the Former Department of Safety Assistant Commissioner, who also previously led the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency management. Mr. Plummer has returned to DHHS from his retirement earlier this year to lead New Hampshire’s COVID vaccine distribution efforts. He briefed us on the current state of vaccine distribution in the state and I wanted to share with you what we discussed.
The State is using a phased approach for vaccine distribution and we are currently in Phase 1a, which includes frontline workers, first responders, and people who live or work in long-term care facilities. The state has already administered 61,000 doses of the vaccine.
You can find out what phase you are in at: www.vaccines.nh.gov
Starting Friday, January 22, at 8:00am, folks in Phase 1b will be able to REGISTER for an appointment to receive a vaccine online at www.vaccines.nh.gov or by calling 211. Vaccinations for Phase 1b will begin on January 26.
Phase 1b now includes people 65 and older, medically vulnerable individuals who have 2 comorbidities that put them at higher risk from COVID-19, family caregivers, staff and residents of residential facilities for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, corrections officers and staff, and first reponsonders and health workers not already vaccinated. Medically vulnerable individuals (and caregivers) under age 65 should work closely with their providers to ensure access to a vaccine.
More important information:
- According to Mr. Plummer, the only limiting factor they are facing right now is vaccine supply in the state. He is confident there will be enough capacity to administer all vaccines once they are received.
- Everyone allocated a first dose will be allocated a second dose.
- Mr. Plummer informed us that their vaccine prioritization strategy is to prevent as many deaths as possible from COVID-19.
- The 211 hotline is available to anyone with questions regarding COVID-19. They are training additional National Guard members to help run their call centers more efficiently.
- The state will be launching a public messaging campaign to improve vaccine confidence in the next few weeks, working with media and our local public health networks.
Lastly, we learned that the Governor ultimately determines the vaccine priority groups. If you do not agree with his decisions, please reach out to him as soon as possible. This is a critical point of advocacy. You can call his office at 603-271-2121 or email at email@example.com.
Eventually, widespread access to vaccines will help us return to something that resembles normal life. In the meantime, our public health professionals and scientists remind us that COVID-19 transmission remains very high in New Hampshire. We need to continue to wear our masks, practice physical distantancing, and frequently wash our hands, even after you have received the vaccine. We all have a role in keeping our community safe.
These next few months will be crucial to protecting our communities and I promise to work tirelessly to get you and your families the information you need to stay healthy.
Please stay in touch,
Senator Becky Whitley represents Concord, Penacook, Hopkinton, Henniker, and Warner.