Sununu apologizes for vaccine scheduling woes, promises fix
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu apologized Thursday to state residents who have struggled with scheduling coronavirus vaccinations but promised a smoother process going forward.
“We tried it the federal way, that’s not working. This is New Hampshire, we’re going to jump right on top of it and find a better solution for our citizens,” he said. “We do apologize. We own that very aggressively, but we’re also going to do everything we can to own the solution.”
New Hampshire has been relying on the federal government’s vaccine scheduling system, in part because unlike other states, it is still setting up a statewide vaccine registry.
But that system proved problematic, with between 10,000 and 20,000 people unable to schedule their second doses anywhere close to the recommended time frame, Sununu said. Another 3,000 people had their appointments cancelled because the system accidentally let them sign up for federal and employer clinics for which they weren’t eligible, said Perry Plummer, who has been coordinating the vaccine process.
The state has been adding thousands of new second-dose appointment slots in recent days, and all those whose second appointments were pushed beyond the recommended dates will be able to reschedule, Sununu said.
“That is the guarantee we’re making to the citizens of New Hampshire,” he said.
And starting Sunday, those who are getting their first shots will be given the time and date for their second shots on the spot, he said.
“The citizens of New Hampshire should not be asked to come back into this very difficult system to reschedule,” he said. “So we’re going to take care of that for you, we’re going to be right on top of it.”
In the next few weeks, the state will be transitioning to its own scheduling system for the next phase. Currently, the vaccine is available to those age 65 and older, those with multiple medical conditions, corrections workers and those living and working in facilities for disabled residents. The next phase will include teachers and daycare staff, and could start as early as April, Sununu said.
In other coronavirus developments:
The city of Nashua has paid tribute to the more than 1,000 people in New Hampshire who have died of COVID-19.
As of Thursday, 74 people from Nashua had died of the virus.
“Add them up we must,” Rabbi Jon Spira-Savett of Temple Beth Abraham said in his opening prayer. “But at least today, for this hour, the only number is one. One person who died of COVID-19. Each one. One to her family, one to his friends, one to their community. Not an aggregate or even a list of names, but each name. A name I know, or you do. Today we remember, one by one.”
Jane Goodman, public health strategist at the city’s division of public health, said it is a time of sadness, of honoring the memories of those who have died, and a time of hope for brighter days.
Members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation also took part in the ceremony.
More than 67,000 people have tested positive for the virus, including 433 cases announced Thursday that included numbers for two days. Nine additional deaths were announced, bringing the total to 1,085.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has decreased increase over the past two weeks, going from 759 new cases per day on Jan. 20 to 451 new cases per day on Wednesday.
Associated Press writer Kathy McCormack contributed to this report.