NH Executive Council Reverses Course, Approves $22M in Vaccine Funds

The Executive Council, which previously rejected millions of dollars from the CDC to help increase New Hampshire's vaccination rate, approved $22 million for the effort Wednesday

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After rejecting millions of dollars to help increase New Hampshire's vaccination rate, the Executive Council on Wednesday reversed course and approved $22 million for the effort, along with a non-binding resolution that condemns vaccine mandates.

Last month, the Republican-led council, a five-member panel that approves state contracts, rejected $27 million in federal vaccination funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over concerns language in the grants would have bound the state to follow federal directives and mandates related to COVID-19.

The language the Republicans opposed has appeared in other contracts they approved, and both Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and Attorney General John Formella said it does not in any way impede the state's sovereignty.

Later in October, the council voted to use $4.7 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to help community health centers and regional public health networks set up school-based and community vaccination clinics. With the approval of Wednesday's funds, that money will now be repurposed.

"Thanks to a bipartisan majority of the Executive Council for working with my administration to revisit and craft a solution to accept these critical public health federal funds. We are moving full steam ahead," Sununu said in a statement Wednesday.

The vote was 4-0, with Republican Councilor Ted Gatsas just voting "present."

Cinde Warmington, the lone Democrat on the council, said in a statement that she continued to speak out about "the poor decision" made by the council when the money was rejected in October and demanded that it be reconsidered.

Sununu said the non-binding resolution that condemns vaccine mandates is a result of councilors wanting "to make sure that the voice of not just themselves, but individuals that they represented were heard."

"And that's a fine avenue of doing it, if it makes more comfortable to get a 'yes' on those dollars," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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