Where do state lawmakers fall in the vaccine plan?
Each state has developed a plan for the order of COVID-19 vaccinations. In general, older residents and essential workers get priority. States and the public are also debating whether any government officials should get early vaccination to ensure the continuity of government.
NH’s vaccine plan
New Hampshire’s vaccine plan has phases. The very first vaccines went to high-risk health workers, first responders, and older adults in residential care settings. After that New Hampshire is vaccinating:
People over age 65
Medically vulnerable people at “significantly higher risk”
Residents and staff of residential facilities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
Corrections officers and staff
Any remaining first responders and health care workers
By March the state plans to start the second phase of vaccines, including K-12 school and childcare staff.
After that comes people age 50-64, then medically vulnerable people under age 50, then everyone else.
The state may modify this plan if there is a significant change in supplies or federal guidance.
Should lawmakers get vaccine priority?
Some states, such as Colorado and Oklahoma, are giving lawmakers early access to the vaccine. The argument is that elected officials are essential to maintaining government operations and services, so they should get priority like other essential workers.
In New Hampshire, the difficulty of gathering 400 representatives virtually or in person has handicapped legislative action during the pandemic. Legislators on both sides of the aisle have called for more legislative input in Gov. Sununu’s emergency spending and policy decisions. If New Hampshire legislators were vaccinated, they would have more options to meet in person and continue “the people’s work.”
On the other hand, many Democrats argue the Legislature should have figured out how to meet remotely by now.
There’s also a chance many legislators would turn down a vaccine.
There is another dimension to New Hampshire’s Legislature that impacts this debate: the average New Hampshire legislator is over age 65, so most legislators will already be eligible for a vaccine before the general population.
How will legislators meet during the pandemic?
With or without COVID-19 vaccination, New Hampshire’s legislators do not plan to suspend operations like they did last year.
The state Senate is proceeding with online public hearings and votes. They also plan to combine most of their bills into “omnibus” bills that will reduce the required number of public hearings and votes. Learn more here.
The state House of Representatives is planning a hybrid version of public hearings that will allow remote participation during physical meetings in Concord. The exact details of how this will work are not finalized. The House held a “drive-in” legislative session January 6 but has not confirmed if that format will be repeated for future voting days.
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