The Trump administration announced Tuesday that more COVID-19 vaccine doses would be released to the states and that the federal government now recommends vaccinating everyone over 65 quickly, but New Hampshire officials appeared guarded.
“While the state appreciates the flexibility these potential federal changes may allow, they raise considerable questions surrounding future vaccine allocations, and the guarantees we can expect to receive from the federal government going forward,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in an emailed statement Tuesday.
“Our goal will remain the same — to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”
New Hampshire has used about half of the 98,150 COVID-19 vaccine doses it has received so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state has focused its first round of vaccination on health care workers, nursing home staff and residents, and emergency responders like police and firefighters.
The state’s next phase includes anyone over 75, and people with two or more underlying health conditions that could make COVID-19 especially risky.
Opening vaccination to anyone over 65 now could more than double the number of Granite Staters who are eligible for vaccines. Just over 101,000 people over 75 live in New Hampshire, according to U.S. Census data. There are more than 253,000 New Hampshire residents over 65.
The AARP has been advocating vaccination for people over 50, and cheered the Trump administration’s recommendations.
But the New Hampshire Health Care Association, a trade group for nursing homes, said it worried the change would delay second doses for nursing home residents and staff who have received their first doses.
“It will have taken almost a month to administer first-shot vaccinations for our state’s nursing homes, and what if the shots aren’t there for the second round?” Brendan Williams, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, said in a statement Tuesday.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar said the administration was now confident enough in the supply chain to release that stockpile, according to Reuters.