Sununu Called Out by Public Health Officials as NH’s Vaccination Rate Falls Behind the Rest of New England
At a critical time in the push to vaccinate more Granite Staters, the Sununu administration’s vaccination campaign is being marred by inaction and inaccurate reporting. This week, news outlets revealed that the state’s reported vaccination rate is actually decreasing without explanation, and that racial disparities in New Hampshire’s vaccination rate are increasing. Additionally, New Hampshire’s vaccination rate lags behind the rest of New England, which last week prompted public health experts to call out Sununu for his refusal to develop a new strategy on how to overcome the state’s stagnant vaccination rates.
The state's current vaccination rate is unclear. The state recently made changes to his COVID-19 dashboard to separate out non-residents who were vaccinated in New Hampshire to give a clearer picture of the percentage of vaccinated residents, but the numbers provided by the dashboard have been inconsistent.
As of Friday, the state listed the percentage of fully vaccinated New Hampshire residents at 51.2%, an unexplained decrease of 1.5% from Thursday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed the percentage as 58.5%.
New updates to the COVID-19 vaccine data provided by New Hampshire state officials show striking impacts on vaccination rates for Black and Asian American Granite Staters.
The lack of county-specific race and ethnicity data from the state is also frustrating for [Clifton] West, because he’s only working in one area. Without the county-specific data, he says it’s hard to know who to target for outreach. The regional public health networks West has partnered with say they feel similarly. Scott Schuler, the Seacoast COVID-19 complex incident commander, says statewide data like this isn’t very helpful for their work. What they need, Schuler says, is more localized data to help them target their efforts and strategize with community leaders.
New Hampshire's racial and ethnic disparities remain concerning to advocates, especially because people of color, in New Hampshire and nationally, have borne a disproportionate share of cases and deaths from the coronavirus.
With vaccination rates lagging and COVID-19 cases climbing in New Hampshire, a group of Democratic lawmakers and public health advocates called on Gov. Chris Sununu to step up the state’s push to get more residents immunized. Promoting videos of himself and public health officials urging residents to get vaccinated is not enough, they said.
“In addition to people who are reluctant to be vaccinated, there are Granite Staters who still struggle to access the vaccine, particularly those who are low income, disabled, and those who live in rural areas of the state,” Sen. Cindy Rosenwald of Nashua said at a Thursday press conference. “But Gov. Sununu and his administration appear no longer interested in having a role to play in promoting vaccination rates among any of these groups.”