NH's COVID Vaccine Rollout Leaves Some Residents ‘Pleasantly Surprised'

The head of New Hampshire’s vaccine rollout team thinks part of the state's smooth rollout is the centralized registration website plus the fact that it can administer the 17,000 doses it gets every week

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More than 300,000 New Hampshire residents eligible in this phase of the coronavirus vaccine rollout are already signed up for their first shot.

Residents we spoke with Thursday say they’re “pleasantly surprised” at how easy it was to get an appointment.

When New Hampshire opened up vaccine registration for people 65 and older, Bob and Andrea DeSpirito of Hampton were on their computer ready and waiting.

“We were able to get into the website within a half hour,” Bob said.

So too was Atkinson resident Mary Ellen Dahlstrand.

“I started at 8 a.m. and was done by 8:20,” she said. “I was like, ‘Whoa, that was fast.’”

As vaccine demands continue to outstrip supply countrywide, the United States is expecting to see over half a million COVID-19 deaths within the next three weeks. Just over one million people are getting vaccinated a day, according to the CDC.

They all received a response from health officials within a day.

“We registered 50,000 people in first 30 minutes,” said Perry Plummer, who heads up New Hampshire’s vaccine rollout team.

He said it’s been mostly successful so far.

“I think our rollout for 300,000 people went very, very well, for 99% of the people,” he said.

A recent glitch with appointment scheduling allowed residents to sign up at private vaccine locations, but, Plummer said, those people have all been contacted and rescheduled.

The CDC is recommending educators get vaccinated in phase one, but in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, teachers are slated for phase two - and they’re not happy about it.

He thinks part of the state’s smooth rollout is the centralized registration website plus the fact that New Hampshire has the resources to administer the 17,000 doses of the vaccine it gets from the feds every week.

“We have the capacity to vaccinate far more people, so whatever they send us for doses, we have the ability to get needles in arms and get people back to a better life,” Plummer explained.

The DeSpiritos will get their shots next week. 

“We were surprised we got on the list this quickly, so we’re real psyched about that,” Bob DeSpirito said.

And while Dahlstrand was disappointed that she isn’t scheduled until March, she said that, after the longest year of her life, what’s one more month?

“I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing, but I’m looking forward to it because I have not seen my sons in over a year,” Dahlstrand said. “They live out west and that’s been tough.”

We also heard from a lot of people on social media frustrated that they’re not scheduled until March or April.

The state said it’s hoping to get more doses from the federal government in the coming weeks, enough to bump up those later appointments.

As for second doses, the state said it will begin the process of reaching out to eligible residents on Friday. 

The coronavirus vaccine has been shown to be safe, but some of the temporary side effects can feel pretty rough — especially when you get that second dose. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief patient safety officer at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, described his own experience with “extreme” fever and chills after his second shot so you know what to expect.
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