Frequently asked questions: Vaccination in the Upper Valley

  • FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 file photo, empty vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are seen at a vaccination center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/24/2021 4:26:47 PM
Modified: 2/24/2021 4:26:42 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: Information in this FAQ is current as of Feb. 24, 2021. Find additional information and updates under the “more resources” section at the end of this FAQ. Bookmark this page at www.vnews.com/vaccineFAQ

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WEST LEBANON — As COVID-19 vaccine distribution programs in the Twin States continue, many residents are wondering how, when and where to get their shots.

Vermont and New Hampshire have been vaccinating health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities and first responders since mid-December, and in late January they began vaccinating senior citizens.

Both states have opened vaccine registration portals to those who qualify, but it’s a new and evolving process for all involved. The Valley News compiled this guide based on information distributed by the Twin States’ health departments, Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the White River Junction VA Medical Center.

Who is eligible and when?

New Hampshire began with what it calls Phase 1a of its rollout plan. That phase included high-risk health care workers, first responders and residents and employees of long-term care and assisted living facilities.

The Granite State began registering people in Phase 1b on Jan. 22. Phase 1b includes people over 65, people between 16 and 65 who have two or more of a list of medical conditions that put them at higher risk of developing serious illness due to COVID-19, family caregivers for medically vulnerable children, residents and employees of residential facilities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, workers in correctional facilities, and first responders and health care workers not already vaccinated.

Phase 2a, which is expected to begin in March, includes teachers and other employees in K-12 schools, as well as child care providers. After that is Phase 2b, which includes people between the ages of 50 and 65.

Beginning in May or so, New Hampshire is slated to vaccinate those in Phase 3a, which includes people under 50 with one or more medical conditions. That will be followed by Phase 3b, which includes everyone else.

Vermont began by vaccinating health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities and emergency medical first responders, but has switched to age banding for subsequent phases. People age 75 and older in Vermont began registering for vaccination on Jan. 25. Clinics for that group began on Jan. 27.

Beginning on Feb. 16,  Vermonters 70 years and older were able to begin making appointments to get COVID-19 vaccines. Those 65 and older will be able to begin making appointments on Monday, March 1. These phases will overlap. It will probably take until spring to finish these groups.

After vaccinating these age groupings, the state plans to make the vaccine available to people with certain high-risk medical conditions.

What medical conditions qualify me to get vaccinated earlier?

New Hampshire (two or more for Phase 1b or one or more for Phase 3a) and Vermont (once people 65 and over are vaccinated):

■cancer

■chronic kidney disease

■COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and other high-risk pulmonary disease

■Down syndrome

■heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies

■immunocompromised states

■obesity

■pregnancy

■sickle cell disease

■Type 2 diabetes mellitus

In New Hampshire, patients without two or more of these conditions may still qualify for Phase 1b if a health care provider determines they are at significant risk of developing serious illness due to COVID-19.

How do I register to get vaccinated?

New Hampshire residents: People who are 65 and older can register to be vaccinated by visiting vaccines.nh.gov. People without internet access can call 211 to register.

People under 65 who are prioritized due to medical conditions need to register through their health care provider to confirm eligibility. There is no requirement to retain any verification forms, but a person’s associated medical conditions should be documented in their health record. People in this category without a health care provider should call 211 to be connected to one. Dartmouth-Hitchcock has asked New Hampshire patients in this category to sign up for the Lebanon-based health system’s patient portal, myD-H, at www.mydh.org, for updates on where and when to receive a vaccine.

Other Phase 1b New Hampshire residents should also register to be vaccinated by visiting vaccines.nh.gov or calling 211, through their employer or through a vaccination clinic organized by a regional public health network.

To schedule a second dose, New Hampshire residents who received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 7 or later should expect to get an appointment card with a day and time for their second dose during their first shot.

New Hampshire residents who had received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine before then need to schedule the appointment for their second dose through vams.cdc.gov, and use the same username and password used to schedule the first dose. 

Vermont residents: People can register online through the Vermont Department of Health via a link at healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine.

If they are not able to register online or need assistance in a language other than English, they can call 855-722-7878.

Once it’s my turn to get vaccinated, where can I expect that to happen?

In general, many residents of both Vermont and New Hampshire can expect to be vaccinated at state-run vaccination clinics or at a pharmacy.

In New Hampshire, the National Guard is currently staffing 13 fixed sites throughout the state, including the former JCPenney building in West Lebanon and the River Valley Community College campus in Claremont. This month, the state is expanding to include Walgreens pharmacies, but people can get vaccinated only if they have registered.

Vermont is offering vaccines at clinics set up by the state for each phase of the distribution process. Kinney Drugs and Walgreens also are providing vaccines in Vermont. Home health agencies have begun distributing vaccines to patients. Some hospitals and health care providers also are serving as distribution points.

What if I receive care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock?

Vermont residents, or any non-New Hampshire residents, are not eligible to use Granite State vaccination clinics unless they are employees of a business or organization in New Hampshire that is prioritized for vaccination, such as a health care worker, first responder, correctional facility staff or person working in a residential facility for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

For COVID-19 vaccination in Vermont, in-state residents need to provide their primary address to make an appointment. Non-Vermonters can still get the vaccine in Vermont if they work in Vermont, have a primary health care provider in Vermont, or have moved to Vermont within the last six months with the intention of becoming a resident.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock, which early in the rollout received two shipments a week of COVID-19 vaccines for its front-line employees, expected to get fewer doses as New Hampshire began Phase 1b because the state is pushing most residents to the state-run fixed sites.

D-H is submitting eligibility documentation to state officials for New Hampshire patients ages 16-64 with significant medical conditions that leave them more vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19. 

For those who qualify as medically vulnerable, D-H will automatically submit documentation to the state to confirm patients’ eligibility. Afterward, patients should expect an update in their myD-H account or via postal mail. Such patients should then expect an email from no-reply@envelope.mail.vams.cdc.gov with a scheduling link, or a phone call for those without an email address on file.

D-H patients who are New Hampshire residents and believe they meet the criteria for vaccination as a medically vulnerable patient, but have not been contacted by D-H, are asked to contact their provider.

What if I get my care at the WRJ VA?

The White River Junction VA Medical Center is currently vaccinating veterans who are 65 or older, those who are frontline essential workers as defined by the CDC and veterans who are on hemodialysis, have had or are awaiting a solid organ transplant, those with a spinal cord injury, those who are homeless, as well as those who are receiving chemotherapy in a clinical or hospital setting. Veterans need to be enrolled in VA healthcare to qualify and can do so by calling 877-222-8387.

Care teams will contact veterans when a vaccine is available, based on their personal risk factors and vaccine availability. Veterans can sign up to receive updated information online at va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/stay-informed. Veterans also can call 866-687-8387 for more information.

How many vaccines have been distributed?

As of Feb. 24, Vermont had given out about 140,000 doses of vaccine, and 48,000 people had received both of the two shots required of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines now available, according to the state’s dashboard. Nearly 17% of the state’s population over the age of 16 has received at least one dose of vaccine. That includes almost 7,800 people in Windsor County and 4,000 people in Orange County.

New Hampshire, which has more than twice the population of Vermont, had given out 274,000 doses and more than 86,000 people had received their second dose as of Feb. 23, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracker. A county-by-county breakdown of vaccinations in New Hampshire was not readily available. State officials are still developing a vaccine dashboard.

More resources

New Hampshire: General information is online at vaccines.nh.gov and by phone at 211. Dartmouth-Hitchcock also has an information page at dartmouth-hitchcock.org/patient-education/covid-19-vaccine.html.

Vermont: General information is online at healthvermont.gov/covid-19/vaccine/about-covid-19-vaccines-vermont. Vermonters who cannot register online can call 855-722-7878.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.




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