All 16 or older can sign up to get vaccine next week

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Kevin Landrigan, The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester
·3 min read
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Mar. 25—CONCORD — By next Friday, all New Hampshire residents 16 and older will be able to sign up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Chris Sununu said.

The ramped-up delivery of the vaccine in three stages next week means that all likely will get their first shots by Memorial Day.

"We are definitely way ahead of schedule and definitely the fastest in the Northeast," Sununu said Thursday.

Residents 40 to 49 can start registering Monday. Those 30 to 39 can sign up Wednesday, and everyone from 16 to 29 can register Friday.

"We are going to break it up a little bit," Sununu said.

"We don't want hundreds of thousands of people coming in at the same time. We are still maintaining our philosophy of doing it by age. I think this is a great way to do it."

Each of the three age groups has roughly 150,000 eligible residents, the governor said.

Sununu, 46, said he'll probably wait until the afternoon on Monday to register for his appointment.

All these signups will be through the state-run Vaccination Immunization Navigation Interface — or VINI — which had a bumpy debut last Monday, when registration opened to residents 50 to 64 years old.

The first few hours were marked by delays and complaints from residents who repeatedly tried without success to get connected.

Delays are inevitable

Sununu said the state's information technology experts have "widened the pipe" to ensure those delays don't occur again.

"Could it be slow? Yes, any time you have a rush, there is a potential for it to get slow," Sununu said.

He praised the state's IT team for keeping the website secure from cyber-attacks.

Perry Plummer, the state coordinator of the vaccine rollout, said he sees no need to increase the number of sites administering shots.

"We've got the capacity and the staff to get this job done right up until Memorial Day," Plummer said.

Pfizer is the only vaccine approved by U.S. health experts for those 16 to 18 years old.

No vaccine has been approved for those under 16.

Through Thursday, the state had administered 537,000 doses of the vaccine, and 26% of the population — about 354,000 people — had received the first dose.

About 194,000 people — 14% of the state's population — were fully vaccinated, according to Dr. Beth Daly, director of the state's infectious disease control bureau.

In the past week, 60,000 doses of vaccine were distributed, including 35,000 first doses. Daly said the state will receive 45,000 more first-dose vaccines, including 8,000 of Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine.

Sununu said he spoke with the CEO of Johnson & Johnson about the delays in getting that vaccine to the states. New Hampshire didn't receive any in the past few weeks.

Thus far, the state has given at least one shot to 39,000, or 69%, of the 55,000 teachers, child care and camp staff.

"That's about what I would have expected, 65 to 70%," Sununu said.

The governor said it's reasonable to expect younger residents will sign up in smaller numbers for the vaccine.

By this summer, Sununu said those who want the vaccine will have gotten a shot, and it's possible the state might at that point expand eligibility to non-residents, such as out-of-state college students.

The governor said that later this spring he is likely to recommend that public schools return to in-person instruction five days a week.

He praised the "substantial number" of school districts that have already brought back all students into the classroom each day.

"We are going to be working with them to try to get them there. This is not a mandate; that is probably not that far down the road," Sununu said.

klandrigan@unionleader.com