(NEW YORK) — Nearly half of New Hampshire’s population has been fully vaccinated and rather than focusing on incentives, the state wants to send excess COVID-19 vaccines to Canada.
New Hampshire is “leading the nation in many ways” in vaccine distribution and doesn’t need to invest in incentives, Gov. Chris Sununu said during a coronavirus briefing Thursday.
“Other states are doing the incentives because they’re way behind, they’re trying to catch up to where we are,” he said.
So far, 49.6% of New Hampshire is fully vaccinated, and 59.4%, more than 805,800 people, have received at least one dose, according to state health department data. The state has administered 80-89% of its first doses delivered, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New Hampshire ranks eighth in the country in total doses administered per 100,000 people, according to CDC data. It trails only its three border states — Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine — as well as Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Hawaii.
President Joe Biden has encouraged states to introduce incentives to get more shots into arms, and states have launched lotteries, scholarship raffles, and even free beer and baseball tickets in an effort to get more people vaccinated.
Several states including Maryland, California, Delaware and Kentucky have instituted their own versions of cash lotteries, inspired by Ohio, where vaccination rates jumped 33% the week after the state announced its $1 million Vax-a-Million lottery, according to The Associated Press.
Instead, Sununu said he wants to see Canada, New Hampshire’s neighbor to the north, reopen its doors to the U.S.
“I’ve made this plea to Washington, we’re waiting to hear from the president; we have directly asked him, ‘Can we give our vaccine to Canada? Will that help open the border?"” he said.
Canada is an important economic partner for New Hampshire. According to the Canadian government, 510,000 Canadians spent a combined $92 million in New Hampshire in 2017 and the state exports $858 million in goods annually to Canada. Nonessential visits from across the U.S.-Canada border, such as tourism, are currently prohibited, though business-related crossings may be permitted.
Sununu noted that Canada is “way behind the U.S.” in vaccine distribution. In Canada, 6.39% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Currently, 41.2% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
During the Thursday press conference, health officials said the state is averaging 50 to 60 new COVID-19 infections per day, a substantial decrease from the winter peak of 800 to 900 new infections a day. Last week’s positivity rate for COVID-19 cases was 1.2%.
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