- Associated Press - Thursday, March 4, 2021

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Vaccinations will begin late next week for New Hampshire teachers and other school staff, Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday.

Phase 2a of the state’s vaccination plan includes roughly 50,000 teachers, other school employees and child care workers, while phase 2b includes anyone age 50 and older. The plan always has called for completing those phases between March and May, though meeting that target initially appeared unlikely given the limited supply of vaccine available.

But with the addition of a third vaccine and increased distribution, regional public health networks will begin overseeing clinics for school districts around the state March 12. On March 17, teachers and others in group 2a will be able to schedule appointments at existing public sites. And on March 22, those in group 2b can start scheduling their shots.

“It’s not linear,” Sununu said. “One doesn’t close and one opens. They all kind of mesh into one another because we’re simply going so fast.”

Sununu, a Republican, has faced criticism for not including teachers in the first wave of vaccinations, which included health care workers, nursing home residents, people age 65 and older and those with multiple medical conditions. The Biden administration has urged states to ensure teachers get at least their first doses by the end of March, but Sununu said that didn’t influence the timeline outlined Thursday.



“They were next in line, so we’re just going right to it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the state has scheduled 12,000 appointments for a mass vaccination clinic being held this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Those appointments mostly went to people in phase 1 whose initial appointments had been scheduled as late as April.

In other coronavirus developments:

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HOMEBOUND HELP

Residents who can’t get to vaccination sites have a new way to get help.

The state already has been working with home health care agencies and other groups to reach homebound residents, but had no way to contact those who don’t receive such services. Starting Friday, those residents can call the state’s 211 resource line to arrange transportation to a vaccination clinic or to have the vaccine administered at home, said Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette.

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SENATE ACTION

The state Senate gave preliminary approval Thursday to a COVID-19 catchall bill that seeks to protect nursing home residents and boost both live performance venues and the state’s smallest businesses. But it delayed action on legislation to shield businesses from virus-related lawsuits.

The bill that advanced to the Senate Finance Committee would bring in outside consultants to assess the state’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities and create grant programs to support performance venues with fewer than 300 seats and businesses with 10 or fewer workers.

The bill includes $250,000 for the nursing home assessment, $1 million for the performance venue grants and $3 million for the microbusiness grants, all of which would come from federal funding.

The Senate voted to retain the business liability bill on the recommendation of its Commerce Committee, which heard testimony that no such lawsuits have been filed in the state.

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THE NUMBERS

More than 76,000 people have tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, including 231 cases reported Thursday. Three new deaths were announced, bringing the total to 1,178.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has decreased over the past two weeks, going from 388 new cases per day on Feb. 17 to 247 new cases per day on Wednesday.

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