The next phase of vaccination signups in New Hampshire got underway on Friday.
Residents age 16 and older are now eligible for the coronavirus vaccine.
They will have to go to sites that have the Pfizer vaccine in stock, currently the only one approved for use for teens. They would need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Those without a driver’s license or non-driver’s state ID must bring a birth certificate or passport. Parents or guardians must also bring documentation.
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The vaccine has not yet been approved for children under 16.
Over 42,000 appointments for those 16 and older were scheduled as of 3 p.m. Nearly 150,000 appointments were scheduled in all this week.
Many of those younger people are high school students eager to get back to life as they knew it before the pandemic.
"I want to take a couple friends, maybe go fishing," said a hopeful Kaiser Faulkner, a junior at Sanborn High School.
At 8 a.m. Friday, Faulkner and his brother, Keegan, were already in remote class when their mom signed them up for their COVID-19 vaccine.
"As soon as the opportunity presented itself, there was no other choice," said Kristin Heckman.
The 17-year-old twins have spent their entire junior year at home, protecting their high risk family members.
"We've also missed out on sports for the whole last year," Keegan Faulkner added.
So, when registration opened up for all residents 16 and older, they didn't hesitate.
"If it's safer for us to go see our grandparents or hang out with our friends and stuff, then we are all for it," Kaiser Faulkner said.
But the boys say they do have friends who are reluctant to get the shot, claiming they're young and healthy, so they don't need it.
"I know a couple people that flat out said that they're not going to get it, no matter what," Keegan Faulkner said.
For that reason, the state is planning targeted outreach to educate young adults about the vaccine.
"The more people get vaccinated, the quicker we get back to our normal lives, and the quicker we get back to the things we enjoy," said Perry Plummer, who is leading the state's COVID response team.
"This was a historic week here in New Hampshire that marks an incredible milestone in our fight against COVID-19, with nearly 150,000 vaccination appointments scheduled in a single week," Gov. Chris Sununu said. "The light at the end of the tunnel is well within sight. The COVID-19 vaccine is our shot to get back to normal, and we encourage all Granite Staters to do their part and sign up for an appointment today."
Last week, officials added a new online waiting room feature to provide users with an estimate of how long it might take to proceed through the appointment process during especially busy hours.
The state replaced the federal Vaccine Administration Management System with its own VINI sign-up website. Thousands of people experienced problems with the previous system, particularly in scheduling their second doses, and officials had expected the new system to avoid those woes.
But many users said they experienced problems when they tried to sign up for vaccine appointments last week. No widespread issues were reported this week.
The mayors and administrators of eight college towns have also asked the state to develop a plan to give vaccines to students who are from out of state, but Gov. Chris Sununu said the timing and vaccine supply are currently obstacles.
“The logistics of students leaving the state for vaccinations and returning to our communities creates the potential for increased spread of the virus among our citizens,” the letter dated Thursday said. It was addressed to Sununu and signed by leaders in Manchester, Nashua, Keene, Hanover, Plymouth, Henniker, New London and Durham.
Sununu said New Hampshire residents “have to come first,” and that the out-of-state students are “not included in the mathematics that the federal government uses to provide us with the vaccine.” He wouldn’t rule it out for a later time.
Sununu said that even if the students got into the vaccine registration system on Friday, they would probably get their second shot in May or as they were leaving. He also said that the students are one of the lowest-risk populations.