By: Jennifer Crompton
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. —
As school districts in New Hampshire prepare to welcome students back to class, data from state health officials show more than one-third of eligible teenagers are vaccinated for COVID-19.
According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, just over 36% of 12- to 19-year-olds have received the vaccine.https://95f8686852c30a1870b89681515363e5.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlAdvertisement
The state education commissioner said data on teacher vaccinations is not available. Officials in districts like Concord, which hosted vaccination clinics in the spring, said they have a general idea of how many are vaccinated, based on who signed up.
“We think our number is between 80 and 85% of our staff,” said interim Concord Superintendent Kathleen Murphy.
Somersworth Superintendent Lori Lane said she believes more than 90% of staff members in her district are vaccinated. As for 12- to 19-year-olds, the vaccination rate is likely lower.
“We believe at the high school level, about 50%,” she said. “At least, that’s where we were last year.”
Somersworth is planning to offer vaccinations in the school and is reaching out to parents.
“If you want us to help you get your children vaccinated or yourselves, we have a permission slip, and somebody from the public health network will come right to school,” Lane said.
State education commissioner Frank Edelblut said the state is leaving mitigation measures up to each district but he is working closely with public health officials and the state will change guidance for schools if needed.
“We’ve already demonstrated in New Hampshire that we have a very flexible system, we keep a close eye on how things are going, and we will be able to move nimbly as those circumstances change and if we need to do something that’s different,” Edelblut said.
The Strafford County and Seacoast Public Health Regional Network will offer the weekly opportunity to the 16 School Administrative Units it covers.
“Depending on how many people need to be vaccinated, we’d probably figure one vaccinator and maybe one assistant that can sit in a classroom, a nurse’s office, any open space,” said Schott Schuler, of the public health network. “It allows for it to be ongoing. It’s also not very disruptive to any of the school operations.”
Pop-up vaccination clinics are also being held in many communities, including Concord and Nashua.