Some New Hampshire college towns are questioning the state's policy to not include out-of-state college students in the state’s vaccination plan, which will allow residents who are 16 and older to be eligible to register for the vaccine on April 2.
College towns like Durham, Plymouth and Hanover have seen some of the highest per capita COVID-19 rates in the state in recent weeks.
Todd Selig is Durham’s town administrator. He says in the past few months, University of New Hampshire students have accounted for the majority of COVID positive cases in town.
“Colleges and universities have unique circumstances, and part of the equation of keeping our community safe, our region safe, and New Hampshire safe, includes getting college students vaccinated in state or out of state as soon as possible,” he said.
In mid-February, UNH had to switch to fully remote learning and implement stricter COVID guidelines, when more than 400 students were positive.
About 60 percent of students at UNH’s main campus come from out of state.
Hanover’s Town Manager, Julia Griffin, spent a good part of Friday morning answering emails from parents of Dartmouth students, who are wondering why New Hampshire isn’t vaccinating out of state college students.
Griffin says getting college students vaccinated is important for towns like Hanover, which also saw a big jump in cases several weeks ago.
“Because right now, they are and they always have been, here in this community, our most prevalent vector for COVID,” she said.
In a statement, a government spokesperson said it could cause confusion if out-of-state college students got one dose in New Hampshire and needed a second one in another state.
Griffin says it could be a “game changer” to keep college towns safe if the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be targeted to college students, and if colleges and towns could set up clinics on campus.
Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday that a New Hampshire driver’s license or other official ID would be required to get vaccinated. But he also indicated that if vaccine supply should increase, that the state may be able to open eligibility up further.