State health officials say they are confident that a website created to process COVID-19 vaccine appointment requests will be able to handle the anticipated volume.
Beginning Friday at 8 a.m., residents aged 65 and older will be able to schedule a vaccination appointment through vaccines.nh.gov. An estimated 250,000 residents fall into this age range, posing a challenge to the state’s IT department.
“I don’t have a crystal ball, and can’t say 100 percent that nothing bad is going to happen, but we have all the resources on this program right now,” said Dr. Beth Daly, Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control for DHHS, during an interview on NHPR’s The Exchange. “And I feel confident that it’s going to handle the volume.”
After completing a registration form on the website, Daly said applicants will then receive an email confirming their request for a vaccine, as well as a link to where residents can schedule an appointment.
With the state receiving approximately 17,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine each week from the federal government, it is expected to take months to process every request for vaccination.
Daly said vaccine appointments will be scheduled several weeks out, but did not specify exactly how many slots will go live on Friday. She clarified the state will not keep a wait list for those who are unable to schedule appointments immediately.
At present, the state’s website does not allow for couples or those who co-habitate to book appointments in the same time slot. Instead, the state recommends individuals attempt to reserve vaccine appointments in either the same or adjacent time slots, whenever available.
Those without internet access or who would prefer to schedule an appointment over the phone will be able to call 2-1-1 beginning Friday morning.
In addition to those aged 65 and older, Phase 1B will also include residents under 65 who suffer from two or more previously diagnosed serious medical conditions. Those who fall into this category will make vaccine arrangements through their medical provider, though some doctors' offices are requesting residents not yet call to arrange vaccinations, as they await more information from the state.
Phase 1B also includes residents and staff of facilities that care for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, as well as corrections staff. Phase 2A, which will begin following the completion of Phase 1B, includes educators serving in K-12 schools.
Through the state’s website, vaccine.nh.gov, users can answer a list of simple questions to determine which phase of the vaccine rollout they currently fall into. Given the limited supplies of vaccines, the state estimates the process of vaccinating those who are interested in the shot will last at least into the summer months.