Less than a day after defending a policy that allowed non-residents who own property in the state to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination, the state is reversing course and will limit vaccines to residents.
A state website previously stated that anyone who owns land in New Hampshire, which includes second homeowners and out-of-state landlords who reside elsewhere, need only provide proof of property ownership to get vaccinated in New Hampshire, despite the lack of doses currently available for full-time residents.
Jake Leon, spokesperson for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, told NHPR on Sunday that the policy was not new, and that “the intent of the vaccination plan is to make it as easily and efficiently as possible for people in NH to get vaccinated, not to throw up barriers.”
In an email Monday afternoon, DHHS announced it was modifying the policy. It gave no reason for the change.
It isn’t clear how many non-residents may have been willing to travel to New Hampshire to obtain a vaccination. The state previously said the number wouldn’t impact the estimate of 300,000 people now eligible for vaccines during Phase 1B, which includes those aged 65 and up, and those younger than 65 with two or more serious medical conditions.
New Hampshire’s resident-only policy is now in line with neighboring states, including Vermont and Maine, which is citing an “extremely limited supply” of vaccinations.
Florida has reportedly seen a wave of “vaccine tourism” after officials there made the initial decision to allow non-residents to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination. The move prompted criticism from local residents and backlash against some international travelers who obtained first doses while visiting the state. In recent days, the state modified its policy to include only residents and seasonal residents, defined as someone who stays in Florida for at least 31 consecutive days.
New Hampshire is receiving approximately 17,500 vaccine doses each week from federal suppliers. Appointments for those in Phase 1B are already booked through the end of March at some locations, according to the state health department.
(This story was updated at 5pm Monday, January 25.)