CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire residents age 65 and older can begin signing up next week for the coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday.

While the state’s original plan called for starting vaccinations among the general public with those ages 75 and older, federal officials this week recommended that eligibility be immediately extended to people age 65 and older and younger people with certain health problems. Under the updated schedule, the next phase will include anyone age 65 and up, medically vulnerable adults and those caring for medically vulnerable children; staff and residents of facilities for the intellectually and developmentally disabled and corrections officers and staff.

About 300,000 people fall into one of those categories. For those meeting the age requirement, registering will be done via a website that will go live on Jan. 22, Sununu said. Those with qualifying medical conditions will be asked to call their doctors to initiate registration.

“We are asking folks to be patient,” said Sununu. “My guess is you’re not going to get an appointment for the next day, or even the next week. There will be a lot of demand out there.”

In a discussion led by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on Wednesday, some primary care physicians said staffing will be a struggle given the additional work of confirming whether patients meet the eligibility requirements, as well as briefly monitoring them for severe post-vaccination reactions. But Sununu said there will be no funding headed to providers to help with that.

“I suppose it could take a little extra time,” he said. “But look, we’re talking about the biggest public health crisis in the state’s history, and if over the next few weeks, doctors have to spend a little extra time going through and double checking that those that are most medically vulnerable are first in line, as they should be, I think that’s a very appropriate system. It’s actually a very simple system.”

Teachers, who won’t become eligible for the vaccine until March, have criticized the plan because it puts ski patrol members in the current group.

“Ski patrol are providing emergency medical services, they’re essentially front-line medical services,” said Sununu, whose family owns a ski area. “Teachers don’t provide emergency medical services. It’s like a school nurse, they get to go earlier, too, because they’re potentially providing emergency medical services. Regardless of what your job title is, those are the folks we vaccinate.”



More than 54,000 people in New Hampshire have tested positive for the virus, including 706 cases reported Thursday that included results from several days. Twelve additional deaths were announced, bringing the total to 897.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has risen over the past two weeks from 675 new cases per day on Dec. 30 to 755 new cases per day on Wednesday.

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