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ICYMI: Sununu Refuses to Act to Prevent Future COVID Outbreaks at NH Veterans Home

Yesterday, New Hampshire Bulletin reported that the Sununu administration is refusing to protect the lives of Granite State veterans and avoid another deadly outbreak at the New Hampshire Veterans Home by not requiring nursing home staff to be vaccinated. Last week, State Senator Cindy Rosenwald urged Chris Sununu to mandate vaccinations for employees at the New Hampshire Veterans Home. The Sununu administration has rebuffed the request and refused to take action to protect veterans at the nursing home. Sununu has routinely avoided taking responsibility for the deadly outbreak at the Veterans Home earlier this year. Now, the Governor is once again passing the buck by refusing to require nursing home employees to be vaccinated, even though governors in every other New England state have already taken similar actions. Read more from the New Hampshire Bulletin. New Hampshire Bulletin: Staff vaccination to remain optional at New Hampshire Veterans Home By Annmarie Timmins A state senator’s request for mandated staff vaccination at the New Hampshire Veterans Home, where 37 residents died of COVID-19 following a 2020 outbreak, appears unlikely to change the current policy of making vaccines optional – at least for now.

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About 50 percent of staff had received a COVID-19 vaccine as of a March report on the home’s infection control practices during COVID-19, and fewer than 50 percent get a flu vaccine, which is offered onsite at no cost each year, the report said.

House Bill 220, signed by Gov. Chris Sununu in July, prohibits state, county, and local governments from mandating vaccines as a condition to “secure, receive, or access any public facility, any public benefit, or any public service,” making mandated staff vaccines illegal in public schools and most public workplaces. Public health care settings, however, such as the state hospital, county nursing homes, and the state-run New Hampshire Veterans Home may mandate vaccines under the new law. The federal Department of Veterans Affairs announced in July it was requiring its 115,000 frontline health care workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine, saying it was “taking this necessary step to keep veterans it serves safe.”

Late last week, Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, a Nashua Democrat, cited the same goal when she called on Sununu to require staff in the state’s veterans home to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. “With the Delta variant surging across the state and the country, we should do everything possible to protect the residents of the (New Hampshire) Veterans Home,” she said.

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