Doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are all being administered in New Hampshire — marking a turning point, but not the end, of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the state and the country continue the monumental effort of immunizing people, here are answers to some questions you might have about the vaccine.
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What is NH’s vaccine distribution plan?
The state is administering the vaccine in six different phases, laid out in the graphic below:
- Phase 1A (vaccine administration to this group has begun): health care workers, first responders and people associated with long-term care settings
- Phase 1B (began on Jan. 26): people with significant medical conditions that leave them more vulnerable to the coronavirus, all adults over the age of 65, staff and residents of IDD facilities, corrections officers and prison staff
- Phase 2A (March 12 - April or May): K-12 school staff, and childcare staff
- Phase 2B (March 25 - April or May): adults between 50-64 years old
- Phase 3A (May and beyond): those under the age of 50 who have moderate risk factors related to COVID-19
- Phase 3B (May and beyond): everyone who has not already been vaccinated
The state now estimates that vaccine administration to Phase 2A may be finished as early as the end of April.
How many people have been vaccinated in the state so far?
How much farther do we have to go?
Who is eligible to get the vaccine right now?
Any New Hampshire resident aged 65 and older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
In addition, residents under 65 who have two or more serious medical conditions are also eligible. The state has released a list of qualifying conditions, seen below:
Some members of group 1A are still receiving the vaccine, including some residents and staff of long-term care facilities who are getting vaccinated through a partnership with CVS and Walgreens.
Teachers and school staff (group 2A), in districts that have partnered with regional public health networks, can get the vaccine starting March 12, 2021. On March 17, other K-12 school and child care staff can register for vaccine appointments through the state’s new registration system. Administration to this group will start at the state’s fixed vaccination sites on March 22.
Also on March 22, people aged 50 or older (group 2B) will be able to register in the new system, and appointments will be available starting March 25.
Mobile vaccination clinics are also reaching out to disproportionately impacted communities. 10% of the state’s vaccine supply has been allocated for these communities. The state offers more information about its equity plan here.
How can I register and schedule a vaccine?
If you are in Phase 1A or 1B, you can register for the vaccine now at www.vaccines.nh.gov. The site also offers tools to help you determine which group you are in and whether you are eligible. Those without a computer or internet access can call 2-1-1 to register for a vaccine.
For those using the website, it is a 2-step process. After entering basic information on the state’s webpage, respondents will then get a confirmation email from the CDC that will include a link to schedule an appointment in VAMS, the federal Vaccine Administration Management System. View the state’s guide to registering for a vaccine using VAMS here. The state says users will receive a confirmation email within 3-5 days, though some users have reportedly received the email even faster. (Check your spam folder!)
Somewhere between 12-24 hours before your scheduled appointment time, you will receive a reminder email with pre-screening questions. If you do not have access to a computer, this questionnaire can also be filled out at the vaccination site.
Many residents have reported problems with VAMS, especially with scheduling second dose appointments. The state says it plans to roll out a new vaccine registry system in mid-March, in time for Phase 2A.
If you have any questions, call 2-1-1 to access the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 hotline.
Can I register with my spouse, partner or other family member?
Yes, but only if both you and your family member are eligible to receive the vaccine in the current phase. If you register for a vaccine appointment with a spouse or other family member, you will receive one confirmation email. Then, you need only schedule one appointment, and arrive together at your selected vaccination location.
What if I registered, but I’m not sure if it worked?
If you registered to receive a coronavirus vaccine through www.vaccines.nh.gov and do not receive a confirmation email after 5 days, or any other official communication, the state encourages you to call 2-1-1 for assistance.
Where are vaccinations happening?
With vaccines in limited supply, the state is currently administering vaccines at a limited number of locations around the state. These sites include:
- Nashua High School South
- Londonderry Park & Ride – Exit 4
- Hooksett: SNHU
- Exeter: Exeter High School
- Dover: C&J Bus Terminal
- Plymouth: Plymouth Armory
- Laconia: Lakes Region Community College
- Concord: Steeplegate Mall
- Lebanon: West Lebanon, former J.C. Penney
- Claremont: River Valley Community College
- Keene: Keene State College, 110 Krif Rd.
The following hospitals are also running public vaccination sites:
- Androscoggin Valley Hospital
- Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital
- Hampstead Hospital
- Lakes Region General Hospital
- Weeks Medical Center
- Littleton Regional Healthcare
- Memorial Hospital
- Weeks Medical Center
- Huggins Hospital
Other sites are likely to be added in the coming months.
What documents do I need to bring to my vaccine appointment?
When you go to your vaccine appointment, you will need to bring along one of the following documents for proof of NH residency:
- Valid, unexpired NH Driver license or Non-Driver ID card.
- A payroll check, payroll document, or employment contract showing individual’s legal New Hampshire address, dated within the last 60 days.
- A government issued payment (ie. social security), showing individual’s legal New Hampshire address, dated within the last 60 days.
What if I am homebound, due to a medical condition or lack of transportation?
The state is partnering with home care agencies, public health networks, and emergency responders in an effort to either coordinate transportation to clinics, or bring vaccinations into peoples’ homes.
Home care agencies are reaching out to their clients to identify who may need assistance. In addition, anyone who is unable to travel to receive their shot can call 211, and will be directed through a self-screening process for homebound individuals who need to receive a vaccine.
The new coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. How will the state keep track of second doses?
When you receive your first dose of the vaccine, you will be automatically scheduled for your second dose appointment at the same vaccination site. Residents will also receive a card with their second appointment time and location.
VAMS is recording which version of the vaccine people received, to ensure the appropriate second dose is administered.
Doses of the Pfizer vaccine are administered at least 21 days apart, while Moderna’s version are administered at least 28 days apart.
What if my second appointment is more than 21 or 28 days after my first?
According to the CDC, second doses “should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible,” however “there is no maximum interval between the first and second dose.”
The CDC currently recommends the second dose of both versions be administered no later than 42 days (6 weeks) after the first, as there is “limited data on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window.”
Some recipients of their first doses in New Hampshire have had trouble scheduling a second appointment within that recommended window. The state has released more appointment dates for people scheduling their second dose. Gov. Chris Sununu says that when people go in to reschedule their second dose in VAMS, they will be able to find an appointment within a week of the CDC’s recommended time frame. If an appointment within that window is not immediately available, the state encourages people to check back often as new appointments are released.
Does the state have a documentation process for people who have gotten the vaccine?
When you receive your first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, you will receive a card indicating the date you received your first shot and which vaccine you received (Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna). That information is also recorded on VAMS for use by healthcare professionals.
Is the vaccine safe?
The FDA found “no specific safety concerns” with Pfizer’s vaccine in people ages 16 and over, and an analysis found it to be 95 percent effective. The Moderna vaccine, found to be 94 to 95 percent effective in people 18 and over, was also given a favorable safety profile by the FDA. Similarly, the FDA “did not identify specific safety concerns” with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Serious reactions were rare, but there are some minor side effects like redness at the injection site, fatigue and headaches. People getting vaccinated generally wait at the site for 15 minutes or so to make sure there are no serious side effects.
Hospitals, community groups and long-term care facilities say they’ve been holding Q&A sessions and kicking off educational campaigns to help build trust in the vaccine.
Is the vaccine immediately effective in people?
No, the vaccine does not provide immediate protection from COVID-19. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity to the virus after you receive a vaccine.
However, the FDA reports that the Pfizer-made vaccine does begin to provide protection for some recipients about 10 days after the initial dose, according to data released by the agency. The second dose, delivered at least 21 days after the first dose, boosts immunity above 90 percent and is highly recommended.
Public health experts are still studying new COVID-19 variants that have recently been detected around the world and whether there are impacts on vaccine efficacy. A highly contagious variant of COVID-19 first found in the U.K. was detected in New Hampshire for the first time on Feb. 12, 2021. State officials are monitoring the spread of that and other variants in the state.
Do I still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing measures after receiving the vaccine?
Yes. According to the CDC, not enough information is yet available to say when people who have been vaccinated can relax mask-wearing and social distancing. N.H. State Epidemiologist Dr. Ben Chan said local public officials agree with the CDC's recommendations, and encourage everyone in the state — regardless of vaccination status — to continue practicing virus mitigation strategies.