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NH providers share vaccine rollout concerns

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 6:29 PM EST
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WEST LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) - As the vaccine rollout continues in New Hampshire, those charged with helping to administer the shots are voicing some of the issues they are encountering. Several areas of concern, from supply to logistics, were addressed Wednesday morning during an online meeting that was hosted by New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

“What more we should be thinking about in Washington?” asked Sen. Shaheen, D-New Hampshire.

Shaheen mostly listened, as health care workers from across the Granite State gave vaccination updates. Currently, 50,000 health care workers, long-term care residents, and first responders in New Hampshire have received the first dose of the vaccine and the state is working to finalize plans for the next phase of the rollout.

“We need to better understand the formula to allocate our doses so we can determine how many appointments we can make,” said Patricia Tilly with the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services.

One concern is that vaccines could be wasted as doses are made available to the general public. “We don’t know how many vials we will get. We don’t know how many doses are in a vial. So, you have to think -- we are running a clinic until 7 o’clock at night. You pull out that last vial, you don’t have five doses, you have six doses, you have seven doses. Who is still left in the building at that time to get those doses?” said Don Caruso, the CEO of the Cheshire Medical Center in Keene.

Seniors 75 and over and those with serious health concerns will be next in line to receive a shot. That includes independent living and subsidized senior housing units. Those who advocate for the elderly say mobile vaccination clinics may be the best way to go. “I don’t believe it will be efficient for individuals living with hundreds of others to sign up online or stand in line at a local pharmacy,” said Lisa Henderson with LeadingAge Maine & New Hampshire.

The CDC announced this week it wants the vaccine available to people 65 and older immediately. Health officials in New Hampshire say they are evaluating the new guidance and say the state’s rollout plans are constantly being adjusted. There are geographic concerns as well, especially in the northern part of the state. “If you look at someone coming from the town of Pittsburgh -- to ask them to drive all the way down to Littleton, that is an hour drive,” said Jim Richardson with the North Country Health Consortium.

The providers also talked about the added financial strain associated with increased administrative requirements. “Giving the shot is the easy part,” said one provider.

The overall goal is to vaccinate as many people as soon as possible. Officials are urging the public to be patient in that evolving process

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Some Vt. seniors express frustration at pace of vaccination campaign

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