By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Getting answers from Gov. Chris Sununu about vaccine doses given out of order to avoid spoilage or almost anything about the COVID-19 response beyond his press conferences and press releases has been difficult.
Sununu’s spokesman Ben Vihstadt will only answer questions via email and it appears without Sununu’s or a top aide’s permission, no question of import gets answered or if it is, the responses are vague and incomplete.
When asked for details about the vaccines that were briefly mentioned on WMUR Sunday night as being given to other people to avoid waste, on Monday, Vihstadt at 9:17 a.m. offered no other information besides this quote attributed to Sununu: “The first week of Phase 1B vaccine distribution saw over 1000 cancellations, no-shows, and postponements. Great job by our team ensuring that no vaccine would go to waste by quickly accelerating the vaccination schedule for many of our Phase 1B citizens across NH this weekend.”
Several questions were ignored. A request to interview Perry Plummer, who is in charge of distribution, or someone else who might know how extra vials are being handled was ignored.
When pressed for more details, Jake Leon, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, at 3 p.m. provided the following email:
“The doses administered yesterday went to individuals eligible in Phase 1b that had challenges scheduling an appointment, either because they originally selected a site in VAMS that was not a public site, they had other issues navigating the scheduling process in VAMS, or did not have an email address. We were in contact with many of these individuals last week. Last Thursday, we also issued an email to all individuals who registered as part of Phase 1b and asked them to contact us if they wanted our assistance with scheduling. We spent the weekend calling individuals who told us they needed help with scheduling an appointment, and we were able to schedule vaccine appointments on Sunday for many of them.”
At 4:55 p.m., Leon expanded his response to InDepthNH.org. At 5 p.m. WMUR had a lengthy story about the doses.
Leon’s 4:55 p.m. response included some of what WMUR reported five minutes later, but still not a full accounting of the protocol regarding who gets vaccine that might otherwise go to waste.
“More than 1,900 individuals eligible in Phase 1b received the first dose of the vaccine yesterday. All the people who got vaccinated yesterday are in Phase 1b and had technological challenges in scheduling their vaccine appointments. There were 8 state managed sites that provided vaccines yesterday, along with Littleton, LRGH, and the regional public health networks. Each organization called people living in their region who had scheduling difficulties in Phase 1b to invite them to get the vaccine. There is no wait list for extra doses. Each site has a plan in place each day to contact people in their region eligible for a vaccine in 1b if there are extra doses available. No doses are wasted.”