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New Hampshire lagging behind other New England states in COVID vaccinations

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 5:38 PM EDT
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LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) - New Hampshire lags behind Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts when it comes to people getting their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and that has some health experts concerned.

More than 81% of eligible Vermonters have had one dose. All of our neighbors are in the 60% range, with New Hampshire the lowest at 60.6%.

Health care experts say the bottom line is that the number of people who get a COVID vaccine will directly affect what the new normal will look like.

“I understand people making their individual choices and would like to respect that as much as possible,” Corey Lasell said.

Lasell is one of the more than 720,000 Granite Staters who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But the Grafton resident is not exactly celebrating.

“You got to be a little worried that down the road, these pockets of people who are not vaccinated, all these new variants,” Lasell said. “Are we going to be continually having to get new shots year after year?”

A little more than 60% of New Hampshire residents have received one shot.

President Biden set a July 4 goal for the country of 70%, which is only two weeks away.

“Vaccine hesitancy is a big concern for us,” said Dr. Jose Mercado, the associate epidemiologist at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Mercado says how and when we can get back to normal will depend on how well we, as a society, can control the virus.

“We have done this for other diseases that we have vaccines for. We’ve tried to eradicate diseases like measles for example,” he said.

Mercado says hundreds of millions of shots administered across the globe along with dropping infection rates are evidence the vaccine works.

“We have several months of data now that should reassure us,” he said.

“We do want to continue our efforts to increase vaccinations, said Elizabeth R. Daly of the New Hampshire Health and Human Service Department.

All state-run vaccination sites in New Hampshire are closing at the end of the month. But state leaders are continuing to promote the vaccine.

“That includes working with our regional public health networks who are doing that work now and our local health departments and we are looking for people who want to partner with us,” Daly said.

For some, getting the vaccine is not about protecting themselves but rather those who need protection.

“There are younger members of my household who are not going to be able to get the shot for a really long time and that is concerning,” Lasell said.

Health care officials are encouraging those who have gotten a shot to share their stories. They say that will hopefully encourage others to do the same.

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