The University of New Hampshire (UNH) is hosting two points of dispensing (PODs) of the first dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on Thursday, April 8 and Friday, April 9 at the Whittemore Center. These vaccination PODs are only for UNH faculty, staff and students that are residents of New Hampshire.
Registration for both distribution days is now open, with time slots available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on both days. The vaccine is available for any member of the UNH community who is a New Hampshire resident, even those not involved in the UNH testing program. The statement from UNH Chief of Police Paul Dean and Peter Degnan, Medical Director of Health and Wellness, explains that Durham was chosen because of the “significant number of resident students,” at UNH. While they wrote that the university advocates for all community members to get the vaccine when available, Gov. Chris Sununu has ruled that out-of-state college students will have to get their vaccines in their home state.
Gov. Sununu maintains his sentiment that each vaccine given to young, out-of-state college students is one not given to a New Hampshire resident. He also argues that the timing is an issue, considering that students may be returning to their home states by the time they would be due for the second dose of the vaccine.
However, with vaccine clinics on April 8 and 9, out-of-state students would be able to receive the second dose at the end of the UNH spring semester: as the recommended time frame from the CDC on second dose scheduling would not take place past May 7. In addition, Sununu’s defense of his decision on Thursday was based upon New Hampshire not being given vaccines for out-of-state students, when in fact the US Census says college students are counted at their address while they’re in college as of April 1.
The university encourages all members of the community to get the vaccine when it is available to them, although it is not required. Degnan told The New Hampshire that the availability of the vaccine across the state will be increased, as it is now available as of April 2 to those 16 and older.
An open letter from New Hampshire leaders from college communities to Gov. Sununu was released in an effort to “develop a plan,” to vaccinate the approximately 20,000 temporary New Hampshire residents – college students – that occupy so many of New Hampshire’s communities. The letter lists 18 universities spread among eight Granite State municipalities in which out-of-state and international college students mix in with those communities, arguing that this massive population should be vaccinated for the health and safety of New Hampshire’s towns and cities.
Among those included in the formation of this letter is Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig, who told TNH he is still hopeful Gov. Sununu will reconsider providing vaccines to all New Hampshire college students as part of the ongoing rollout. Selig said, “It’s just the right thing to do – the equitable thing to do.”
He said Durham stands by the belief all students should be eligible: “This it is a public health issue for all who are in contact,” he said, whether the students are living in Durham neighborhoods, going to the local grocery stores, or working local jobs while they’re in New Hampshire. Selig argued even giving students the option to get the first dose would help the overall safety of the community: “Every shot we get in the arm of our state’s inhabitants, including all of our college students, the safer most of our vulnerable residents will be.”
Degnan said he supports the vaccination of UNH’s out-of-state, international students and community members as soon as possible. “The quicker we can vaccinate our community, the lesser the risk for COVID-related negative impact on our members health, as well as academic and social/interpersonal activities.”
For international students, those who have a valid N.H. driver’s license “should qualify to register for the vaccine,” according to an email from the UNH Office of International Students (OISS) and Scholars. If international students don’t have a driver’s license in the state, they can apply for a New Hampshire non-driver ID and make an appointment in Concord, bringing the necessary documents. The OISS said UNH is advocating with the State on behalf of international students and “hope to have updates soon.”
Proof of New Hampshire residency is required in order to receive the vaccine at the Whittemore Center Arena in the form of a valid, unexpired N.H. driver’s license or ID, a payroll check or document, unemployment contract, or government issued payment showing a legal N.H address dated within 60 days.
Those who have already received their first dose of the vaccine from the state are urged to keep their appointment for their second dose.
The more UNH community members that get vaccinated, the closer the university is to adjusting COVID protocols, Chief Dean’s statement says. Regardless of vaccination status, the university asks community members to continue being tested as scheduled and continue following public health guidelines.
Photo courtesy of the University of New Hampshire.