New Hampshire health providers say they're going to need more federal and state help when it comes to vaccinating the general public.
Primary care providers and hospitals are expected to help with vaccine distribution starting at the end of January, when new groups of people become eligible for their first shot. That includes people ages 75 and over, people with two or more health conditions that put them at high risk of COVID-19, and other groups.
On a call with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Wednesday morning, several providers said that next phase is going to take a lot of staff, which nearly every health provider and hospital in the state is already short of.
Holly Mintz, a pediatrician with Elliot Health Systems, asked for patience from the public, as hospital resources will likely have to be diverted to the vaccination effort.
"We also are very committed to caring for our patients on a daily basis in all of our practices, so what we're trying to avoid is shutting down our clinics and not offering that care, because really what that will do is lead more people to the emergency room, and cause more of an issue for the hospitals," Mintz said.
Meanwhile, some frontline healthcare workers are still having trouble getting even their first dose through the state's vaccine registration site.
Dr. William Gessner of Coos County Family Health said only 41 of 140 staff at his facilty have been able to get a shot so far.
"We have a bit of a moving target, don't we, with respect to, 'Are we going to stick with these current phases or what's going to be the emphasis and who's going to be next?' " Gessner said. "And we're confused about that, and I think all of us are looking for what sort of practical guidance is going to come forth."
The state has promised to release more vaccine information to providers soon, but many questions still remain. The general public cannot yet register for a vaccine.