NH's New Vaccine Registration System Struggles With Demand From 50+ Group

The state is just "weeks away" from announcing that all New Hampshire adults will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Chris Sununu said last Thursday.

New Hampshire’s new vaccine registration system struggled to meet demand in its first big test Monday.

The state last week replaced the federal Vaccine Administration Management System with its own Vaccine and Immunization Network Interface, VINI for short. 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 it was beset with technical problems Monday morning, when registration opened to anyone age 50 and older.

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“Registrations may still be processed, but at a slower pace. We are working diligently to address these issues and will provide updates as soon as they become available,” read a message on the the state’s vaccine website. “We sincerely apologize for any delays you may be experiencing.”

Gov. Chris Sununu last week said about 200,000 first-dose appointments would be loaded into the system.

“So folks shouldn’t worry about having to be just the first one in line. There’s going to be plenty of room for everyone,” he said. “Everyone doesn’t need to rush into the system at 8 a.m. on the 22nd.”

New Hampshire residents shared their frustrations with NBC10 Boston and NECN on Monday morning.

"Sununu again promising more than he can deliver,' Cheryl Pasanen said on Facebook.

"Been trying since 8:00am when they were supposed to start taking appointments," added Matthew Avery. "Site is still down."

"Definite issues," said Robert Howard. "Finally able to get through and register and schedule after 90 mins of pure frustration. Site is slow to load pages if you are able to get through any errors that appear."

On Thursday, Sununu said the state is just "weeks away" from announcing that all New Hampshire adults will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine.

“We don’t have a firm date on that but it really is just weeks away that any adult citizen in the state of New Hampshire will be able to go to VINI and sign up for their vaccine,” he said. “Things are very progressing very, very quickly here in the state.”

New Hampshire is now in Phase 2A of its vaccine rollout, with teachers, school workers and child care providers being vaccinated through regional public health networks working in partnership with school officials as well as state-run sites.

New Hampshire residents aged 50 to 64 fall into Phase 2B of the state's vaccination rollout. Though registration opens Monday, appointments for that group will begin March 25.

So far, 22% of the state's population has gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, with 12% fully vaccinated already, officials said. Coronavirus metrics, like the test positivity rate, are holding steady.

The state hasn’t figured out whether New Hampshire college students from other states will be eligible to get vaccinated here, Sununu said. Residency for voting purposes has been a contentious issue in recent years, with Republicans pushing to prevent out-of-state students from voting, but vaccination remains an open question.

Sununu said officials are still deciding how handle college students, part-time residents and those who may have gotten their first shots in other states but want to get their second in New Hampshire.

“All of that, we’ll really look at in the next couple of weeks and make sure we define it really clearly,” he said.

Some restrictions have also been modified, including those for barber shops and salons (walk-ins and waiting rooms are now allowed), restaurants and bars (small bands and bar games are now allowed) and camps.

Domestic travelers are still recommended to quarantine upon arriving in New Hampshire, but it's not required.

The mask mandate, however, was not lifted, Sununu said in a press conference last Thursday: "It has proven to be effective. Masks work."

The fastest way to schedule an appointment is through Residents can still call 211 to schedule an appointment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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