We're pleased to share information about guidelines and timing for the next phase of New Hampshire’s vaccination plan. Those eligible for Phase 1b (see Q&A below) can sign up starting on Friday, January 22, at 8 a.m., with vaccinations starting January 26.

Phase 1b online and 2-1-1 registration is first come, first served. Many of those eligible will be able to sign up via the NH COVID-19 Vaccinations site, but some of the specifics aren't available at this moment. Those under 65 with two or more underlying medical conditions will be registered through their PCP.  Please remember that these plans are fluid and dependent upon vaccine availability. As details develop on how to sign up, we will let you know. Visit the vaccines.nh.gov website for the most updated information, or call 2-1-1.

Attention DSPs and other home-based caregivers: Sign up now! If you received Long Term Care Support stipends last year, you are immediately eligible to get the vaccine under Phase 1a. Sign up today before Phase 1b starts with a rush on January 22. Contact your supervisor if you need full details to ensure your eligibility, and go to vaccines.nh.gov to register.

Timely: An online Vaccines Family Town Hall for those with disabilities and their families and caregivers is scheduled for Friday, January 22 from 12-1 p.m.

Important: If you are under 65, and trying to register under Phase 1b for the vaccine tomorrow due to medical reasons, you will not be able to do so on the website yet unless you are 65 or older. As of now, registration in this case needs to go through your primary care provider. Physicians are being asked to upload information directly to the state who will then contact those people about getting the vaccine. Here is a link to the DHHS Medical Verification form that doctors will use to submit to begin the registration process for those with 2 or more underlying conditions.

We are working with NH Public Health to set up one or more vaccination clinics for individuals and staff. We will let you know as soon as we can. The registration for those clinics will be different – again, details on this soon. Meanwhile, if you are Phase 1a or 1b eligible, go ahead and register at vaccines.nh.gov at the appropriate time.

We strongly encourage all who are eligible to take this safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can. We will all be better defended from the virus as a result.

Thank you so much for all you are doing to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Mary-Anne Wisell

Who is eligible for Phase 1b?
  • Anyone over 65 years old.
  • People aged 16+ who are medically vulnerable with two or more underlying conditions (see list below).
  • Caregivers of anyone under 16 years old who has two or more underlying medical conditions that put them at significantly higher risk.
  • Residents and staff of residential facilities for persons with intellectual and developmental individuals. This includes any individuals that MDS supports aged 16 or older who live in a staffed or enhanced family care residence, as well as their staff and caregivers. 
  • Any direct care worker who was deemed eligible to receive the LTCS Stipend now qualifies under Phase 1a and can register now. Additional guidelines are available from your supervisor.
  • Corrections officers and staff working in correctional facilities.
Who in the MDS community is eligible to sign up in this next Phase 1b?
  • Anyone aged 65+.
  • Individuals (age 16+) who live in a staffed or enhanced family care residence, and their staff and caregivers.
  • People with two underlying medical diagnoses per CDC guidelines (see below).
  • DSPs, home care staff who were eligible to receive the LTCS stipend. (Phase 1a)
Is there a possibility MDS will host a vaccine clinic?
We hope so. We are working to set up one or more clinics at MDS and will let you know as soon as we know. The registration for those clinics will be different – again, details on this soon. Meanwhile, if you are 1a or 1b eligible, please go ahead and register at vaccines.nh.gov at the appropriate time.
Do we still need to wear masks, socially distance, and use proper hygiene?
YES!! Even after full immunization kicks in (two weeks after completing your two vaccine doses), we will all still need to wear masks for a while – not everyone will be vaccinated at the same time, and the virus is still running rampant. Post-vaccination quarantine rules have changed somewhat, allowing those who have reached full immunization (2 weeks after 2 shots taken) will not need to quarantine if they are exposed. But they will still need to follow PPE and social distancing guidelines.
 
What are the guidelines for those medically eligible under Phase 1b?
Those with two or more underlying medical conditions cannot sign up using the vaccine website, unless you are 65+. There is a different registration process. Specifics on that are still being finalized, but as of now Primary Care Providers will pre-register these multiple-diagnosis patients. Click here to see the Medical Verification form that doctors will submit to begin registration. For MDS individuals in this situation (age 16 and older), MDS will most likely help facilitate sign-up and vaccination -- we will have more information on that for you in coming days. If you have questions, please be in touch with your Program Manager or Service Coordinator next week. People are being asked NOT to call their doctor's office about this right now.
List of Underlying Medical Conditions (adapted from CDC):
Phase 1b: Two or more conditions (Phase 3a: One condition)
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
  • Down Syndrome
  • Heart Conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Immuno-compromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m or higher but < 40 kg/m
  • Severe Obesity (body > 40 kg/m)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Other High Risk Pulmonary Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Note: This is not an exhaustive list of conditions. Flexibility is provided for a health care provider to vaccinate any patient whose primary care provider assesses a significant risk for severe illness due to any multiple co-occurring co-morbidities.
 
How can I find out more about vaccinations and the phases?
Alert! A statewide Family Town Hall is scheduled for Friday, January 22 at noon which will provide more detailed information for staff, families and individuals – click here to access Zoom link.
Find up-to-date information at the official NH site, vaccines.nh.gov. You can also call 2-1-1 or 1-866-444-4211.
 
Vaccine Information Resources:

NH Vaccine Phases

Great news! COVID-19 vaccines have started to arrive in NH. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel! The first available vaccine is from Pfizer, which requires two doses, one to start, with a booster three weeks later. The Moderna vaccine is arriving in NH soon once they pass FDA/CDC scrutiny. Click here for COVID-19 vaccinination details from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Click here for detailed estimated vaccination timeline for NH residents (Jan 5, 2020).

We have been working on a vaccination plan for the MDS community over the past month, coordinating with NH Public Health and DHHS, and we are ready to put that into place as soon as we can. You’ll hear more about that soon as things develop.

NH DHHS has provided a detailed COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ which will be updated regularly – you can find it here. Here are answers to a few other questions you might have for us:

Who will get the vaccine?
Hospital workers are already getting vaccinated, and skilled nursing facility staff/residents are next in line to receive vaccinations, probably starting next week, and then followed by first responders. We’re not yet sure exactly when the Disability Services community’s turn will come, but we will let you know as soon as we know. We’re hoping for early January for the staff who work with the most vulnerable individuals.

Who in our MDS community will get the vaccine first?
The first people in our system to receive the vaccine will be direct care staff and program managers who work with multiple individuals or with individuals who live in congregate settings such as a staffed residence, along with individuals because of their high risk for complications. Ultimately, as more supplies become available in spring and summer, everyone will have the opportunity to be vaccinated. As we learn more, we will keep you informed about how vaccines will be accessed. Some will be through pharmacies, others could be through primary care physicians. This piece of the logistics is still being determined.

Are we required to get the vaccination?
We will not require anyone, however we STRONGLY encourage everyone who is offered the vaccine to take it, even if they themselves have had COVID. The vaccines have been subjected to the same rigorous studies and regulatory review process as other vaccines to ensure these vaccines are both safe and effective. The side effects are minimal, and the long-term effects are essential to getting this virus under control and saving lives. Click here for an informational scientific overview of how the COVID-19 vaccines work.

What is the cost to get the vaccine?
We've been told there will be no cost to you – if you have insurance, it will cover the cost; if you don’t, it is supposed to be covered by vaccine providers and the CARES Act. We're checking into this and will keep you updated.

Do we still have to wear masks, wash hands, and watch our distance once we’ve been vaccinated?
YES!! For the next several months, everyone will need to continue to be vigilant. The CDC, DHHS, and public health officials continue to remind everyone that mask-wearing, hand washing, and social distancing will be critical even after being vaccinated, until a larger portion of the population has received the vaccine. It takes time for our systems to absorb the immunity, and it’s not clear at what point those vaccinated are no longer carriers.

Feeling stressed and anxious with COVID and the holidays?
We’re all feeling the effects of this unusual year, so please be sure to make time for yourself or a loved one you know who might be suffering. We encourage you to reach out to get help. If you don’t have a local resource, here are two helplines that are free and confidential.

NH NAMI: 800-242-6264 (press 4)
Project Connect Disability Support: 888-847-3209

NH Vaccine Phases

We are thrilled to announce that some of our most at-risk direct support workers are now able to pre-register and get an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccination. 2021 is nearly here and, yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

This first round of vaccines (part of Phase 1a) will go to the staff who are working with the most high risk individuals or situations. Per New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security Emergency Management, At-Risk Health Workers are front line clinical staff who provide direct patient care and support staff with risk of exposure to bodily fluids or aerosols.

Which of our direct support staff/providers meet this Phase 1a At-Risk registration criteria?
* Staff who work in multiple homes.
* Staff who work in a staffed residence with multiple individuals.
* Staff who work in a staffed residence with an individual with high risk comorbidity factors.
* Home providers who have multiple individuals living with them.
* Direct support staff/home providers who themselves have high risk factors such as age or medical factors.

Which agency workers are NOT "most" high risk and not eligible in Phase 1a?
* Staff who work with one individual who lives alone or with a home provider or family.
* Home providers who have only one individual living with them.
* Office staff.
Basically, this early vaccination effort is for front line workers who have the most potential to spread COVID-19 widely if they were to contract the disease.

How do I know if I meet the criteria, and what do I need to do to get the vaccine?
Agency/provider supervisors will notify you soon if you meet the established Phase 1a criteria. Those staff determined to be eligible will be contacted directly as to how to fill out a pre-registration form to provide their information for NH COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration and updates via the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS). Once your information is submitted, you will receive further information and instructions via email (or phone if you don’t have email) on how to register and schedule your vaccination appointment.

The vaccine itself will be distributed at a fixed vaccination clinic site, likely at Krif Road in Keene. At this point, we don’t know exactly when, where, or which vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) you’ll get. Preregistration is the first critical step in getting those most at risk vaccinated. We will let you know as soon as we know the details of when and where – and you will likely hear directly from VAMS as well.

Please remember that we all need to continue with safety precautions -- wearing masks/face coverings, washing hands frequently, and maintaining social distance. We're not yet out of the woods, but we're getting closer.

Every single one of you has played such an important part in keeping everyone safe over these past 10 months. As we have said before, and will say many more times, you have gone above and beyond during this crisis, with compassion and diligence. We are so grateful to you for this continued effort.

Having the vaccines on our doorstep is the best thing we can celebrate! Wishing you a safe and healthy New Year!

Mary-Anne Wisell, Director of Operations

Vaccine Information Resources:
DHHS COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ
Fact Sheet on Pfizer Vaccine (CDC)
FAQ on Moderna Vaccine (CDC)
CDC Vaccine FAQ
NH COVID-19 Vaccination Planning

NH Vaccine Phases

Developmental Assessments for Infants and ToddlersFamilies in the Monadnock region are now able to access a quick, reliable LENA Developmental SnapshotTM screening tool to help assess a child’s combined expressive and receptive language level. This developmental age snapshot is available through MDS’s Birth to Three program and is completed via mobile device or computer. The easy-to-use age assessment is free and entirely confidential, with no commitment or obligation. Our goal is to help parents identify developmental delays early — in infants and toddlers under the age of 3 — and improve outcomes for children in our region, especially those at risk.

Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, interested family member, or professional, you can now access to this free easy-to-use tool through MDS to help gauge your child’s developmental level.

Contact your pediatrician or email Jason Peck – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – who can provide more information and set you up to fill out a confidential online Developmental SnapshotTM for your child.

What is a Developmental SnapshotTM?
It’s never too early to assess a child’s expressive language development. The LENA Developmental SnapshotTM is an easy-to-use, parent-administered online measurement of infants’ and toddlers’ age based their expressive skills. The snapshot’s tight focus on receptive and expressive language skills and its ease of implementation make it the ideal assessment to measure a child’s development. You provide us with your child’s age, a pseudonym, and we provide you access to the questionnaire. We then share results with you.

Parents instinctively track milestones in other areas, such as physical growth and skills, but are often less aware of subtle language development markers, especially those that precede a baby’s first word. The Development SnapshotTM provides a uniquely valuable source of data on receptive and expressive language, and can also heighten parents’ awareness of language behaviors so they can encourage them.

Lena Snapshot CloseupThis valid, reliable tool was developed by LENA (Language ENvironment Analysis) system. LENA is a national nonprofit whose mission to help communities accelerate language development in children birth to age three, in order to improve their cognitive, social, and emotional health and to close opportunity gaps. You can find out more about LENA at lena.org.

With this quick evaluation of a child’s expressive age, a parent can decide whether an early intervention evaluation might be useful for their child. If an evaluation appears to be appropriate, Monadnock Developmental Services (MDS) is the gateway to that evaluation, which will determine eligibility. If a child is deemed eligible, the family can choose from two local Early Supports & Services (ESS) agencies – Rise for baby & family and MDS Birth to Three – to deliver those very important services.

MDS Birth to Three uses the LENA Developmental SnapshotTM tool in its early intervention services, and is making its use available to parents and professionals to help them identify early delays and improve outcomes for children in the Monadnock Region.

Contact Jason Peck – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – who can provide more information and set you up to fill out an online Developmental SnapshotTM for your child.