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New Hampshire gets first 24,000 doses of Moderna vaccine

December 22, 2020 GMT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine have arrived, and will be split between hospitals and sites serving other health care providers and first responders, officials said Tuesday.

The 13 sites, along with mobile units, will start offering vaccines Dec. 29, said Beth Daly, chief of the state Bureau of Infectious Disease Control. In addition to 24,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine, the state was allocated 8,875 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week, with most of those going to nursing homes, she said.

While the numbers are in flux, the state expects to get about 9,000 doses of each vaccine each week. Officials hope provide the initial shots to the 100,000 people in the first priority group — health care workers, nursing home residents and staff and first responders — by the end of January, she said.

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“It’s going to take us several months to get all who want to be vaccinated vaccinated, and this means we must remain vigilant in the steps we take as individuals to prevent COVID-19,” she said.

Daly said the Department of Health and Human Services is working with first responder agencies to register workers for the vaccine, and will communicate more broadly when it is ready to begin vaccinating ambulatory care providers. For future phases, there also will be detailed communication about eligibility and an online registration process, she said.

In other coronavirus developments:

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SCHOOLS TESTING

Students, teachers and school staff will be given priority when it comes to testing for the virus after the holidays, Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday.

“We want to make sure that students that may require a test to get back into school aren’t being held back three, four, five, six days or even a week while they’re awaiting those results,” he said. “We want to make sure those kids can get back to class as quickly as possible.”

Appointments will be available within 24 hours for symptomatic staff, students and teachers, he said.

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HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

In their last news conference before Christmas, public health officials and Sununu urged residents to stay disciplined in preventing the spread of the virus.

Dr. Ben Chan, the state epidemiologist, cautioned against gatherings that extend beyond one’s household, and said those who do gather for the holidays should wear masks and stay 6 feet (2 meters) apart. Sununu said he has only been visiting his parents for five or 10 minutes at a time, and “Christmas and Christmas Eve will be the same way.”

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We’re not going to mandate, we’re not going to force people to celebrate their holiday in a certain way in their own homes. We don’t do that here,” he said. “But we are asking them to be disciplined and make good choices for themselves and their loved ones.”

The state has deemed a certain out-of-state visitor as an “essential worker,” however.

“We did it for the Easter Bunny, and we want to make sure Santa knows that there will be nothing holding back here,” he said. “He will be here on time, much like the vaccine has been.”

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MUSEUM CLOSED

New Hampshire’s largest art museum has closed until at least mid-January because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester said they will reopen the museum when COVID-19 infection rates start to decrease, and noted that many museums around New England have taken similar steps.

“Our region has recently experienced an alarming spike in cases and the Currier Museum is doing all it can to contain the spread of COVID-19 and avoid burdening local health resources,” officials said.

In the meantime, the museum will expand its online programs, including the family-friendly “Noon Year’s Eve” event.

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THE NUMBERS

More than 37,000 people have tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, with 624 cases announced Tuesday that included results from several days previous days. The number of deaths stood at 656.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has risen over the past has risen over the past two weeks from 689 new cases per day on Dec. 7 to 788 new cases per day on Dec. 21.