Now over a month since the first doses of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine arrived in New Hampshire, over 50,000 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Phase 1A of vaccine distribution, which includes health care workers, emergency responders, and older adults living in residential care facilities, is wrapping up in the next two weeks as the first round of vaccine recipients are now receiving their second doses.
Starting on Jan. 22, phase 1B of the vaccine distribution will begin. Phase 1B will incorporate high-risk individuals who have two or more conditions, anyone over 65 years old, as well as other groups of at-risk workers that have yet to be vaccinated. Anyone can fill out a brief survey at the official vaccine website, (www.vaccines.nh.gov) in order to find out which phase of the vaccine you are in.
Phase 2A, which will begin around March, includes K-12 schoolteachers and other childcare staff, with phase 2B including anyone aged 50-64. Phase 3A, set to begin around May, will include anyone at moderate risk with at least one pre-existing condition, and phase 3B includes everyone not yet vaccinated. This means that college-aged students, along with the rest of the population not at a significant risk, will likely not have access to the vaccine until the middle of the summer.
As of Jan. 15, New Hampshire has administered about 62,500 doses of the vaccine, including 5,700 second doses. This is about 50 percent of the roughly 127,000 vaccines that New Hampshire has received since the beginning of the rollout. Currently 4.6 percent of New Hampshire citizens have received at least one dose of the vaccine. According to state officials, New Hampshire is receiving approximately 18,000 doses of the vaccine per week, a number which—if kept constant—puts the distribution far behind the plan laid out in the distribution schedule.
As a part of his recently unveiled stimulus package entitled the “American Rescue Plan,” President-elect Joe Biden has promised over $400 billion in funding to attack the spread of COVID-19 including $160 billion in aid directly to vaccine distribution. This is a part of the administration’s plan to vaccinate 100 million people in the first 100 days. There were roughly 850,000 Americans vaccinated each day last week on average.
The New Hampshire vaccine distribution plan has not been without controversy. Recently it was announced that the roughly 500 full- or part-time ski patrol workers would be included in the first phase of vaccination (receiving vaccines immediately). This includes ski patrol workers among other emergency service providers in phase 1A. This decision has come under fire from NEA-NH, the state’s largest teacher’s union who reject the inclusion of ski patrol workers while teachers are not prioritized until Phase 2.
NEA-NH president Megan Tuttle said, “Chris Sununu left our educators and school staff behind before when he punted all responsibility for safely re-opening schools. Now, he’s leaving them behind again…we are calling on Governor Sununu to follow the lead of other states and prioritize vaccinating our teachers with high-risk first responders.” New Hampshire, along with New Jersey, are the only two states to not include teachers in the first phase of vaccine prioritization.
Administration at UNH has made no official statement about any plan for future vaccine distribution for either faculty or students.