New Hampshire and Oklahoma this week announced plans to open vaccine eligibility to outside residents as the supply grows and more states expand eligibility.
New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu said officials were confident there would be enough shots to vaccinate outside residents by April 19, the day President Biden urged each state to all Questioning adults for a shot. Mr Sununu said New Hampshire was “way ahead” of that deadline after all adults 16 and over in the state were eligible for a vaccine on April 2.
“We’re going to have a lot of vaccines here,” he said at a press conference Thursday, “so we want to make them available to everyone who is actually here in the state.”
The change came after Mr Sununu was criticized by students and Democratic lawmakers for not allowing foreign students to be vaccinated in New Hampshire. He said last week that residents “must come first” and that college students are at lower risk compared to other age groups.
According to a vaccine tracker for the New York Times, about 47 percent of New Hampshire’s 1.4 million residents received at least one shot, the highest proportion of any state. However, New Hampshire lags behind some other states when it comes to fully vaccinating residents. About 22 percent are fully vaccinated.
Oklahoma began allowing residents in the state to be vaccinated on Thursday, almost two weeks after the state expanded eligibility to anyone 16 years of age or older.
“We always knew there would be a point where offering and increasing capacity would allow us to welcome residents from neighboring states to Oklahoma for the vaccination,” said Keith Reed, deputy commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Health, in a statement. “We’re getting to that point now.”
About 35 percent of the Oklahoma population have received at least one shot, and 22 percent are fully vaccinated.
Indiana also ended its residency requirements late last month. Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, said officials made the change to comply with regulations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s vaccination center. The state wanted too for students and residents who live with more than one person but may not have proof of residence.
More than half of the states and the District of Columbia have residency requirements for vaccinations, though most allow exceptions for workers outside of the state, according to a vaccine tracker from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on national health issues.
The United States is administering an average of three million shots a day, up from around two million in early March. Although millions of Americans are being vaccinated, the country reports a sharp increase in new cases, averaging nearly 68,000 a day over the past week, according to a New York Times database.
Jennifer Kates, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said more states are likely to follow New Hampshire and Oklahoma as vaccine production increases.
“When a state feels more secure in its care and does not feel a crisis,” said Dr. Kates, “then the ability becomes important to support the national effort to vaccinate more people and remove barriers.”