New Hampshire will start vaccinating teachers and school staff on March 12, Gov. Chris Sununu announced at a press conference on Thursday.
Sununu says the first of these vaccines will be available to school districts on March 12 through regional public health networks. Those who do not have access to these clinics can make appointments directly through the state registration site, starting March 17, for appointments starting March 22.
The arrival of Phase 2a comes around the time New Hampshire officials had planned originally, though the increased availability of vaccines will speed up the process.
Sununu said there about 50,000 residents eligible for Phase 2a, including K-12 teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, childcare workers, and staff of summer camp programs.
“Right now we feel very confident that we can meet these dates, we can meet these goals,” he said. “There's a lot of availability, and we just don't want to slow down.”
Soon after teachers start getting vaccinated, the state will open up vaccinations to Phase 2b, which includes residents 50 years and older.
Gov. Sununu’s decision to place teachers later in the vaccination process than many other states drew criticism. His announcement today comes within days of President Biden calling for states to prioritize teacher vaccinations and of governors in Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts accelerating vaccination of teachers in their states.
But Sununu said his timeline was a reflection of vaccine availability and efficiency of the state’s operations.
School districts welcomed the news and immediately began preparing for the roll-out.
"We were thrilled to hear the governor’s announcement this afternoon on vaccinations for school workers,” wrote Manchester Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Goldhardt. “Along with the city Health Department, we’ve been preparing for and eagerly anticipating this moment since the fall.”