CONCORD, NH – A group of over 50 leading New Hampshire business, healthcare and advocacy organizations representing tens of thousands of NH employees announced today the formation of the Healthy 603 Coalition, which will promote well-informed public health and vaccine-related public policy in our state.
While COVID-19 continues to ravage our state and country, we are seeing a significant number of bills filed for the 2022 legislative session that would make it harder for businesses and health care organizations to protect their employees, patients and customers.
When it comes to COVID-19 vaccine policy, private businesses and health care organizations should be free to decide what is best for their employees, customers, and patients. The Healthy 603 Coalition aims to provide policymakers with sound, fact-based information, promote a positive vision for public health, and stand up for the rights of businesses and health care organizations to protect their employees, patients and customers. We oppose legislation that makes it more difficult, or creates restrictions or regulations that undermine a business’s or private organization’s ability to implement the COVID-19 vaccine policies that are in the best interests of the business’s or organization’s employees and customers.
With nearly 10,000 active COVID-19 cases and an average of over 1,000 new cases reported each day, COVID-19 is still an active threat to New Hampshire. In fact, current case rates are as high as they were during the initial spread of the virus, with New Hampshire as one of the leading states in the country for new cases per capita. But we have the tools to slow the spread of COVID-19, and the vaccine is one of them.
Vaccinations are the most effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19, prevent serious illness, reduce hospitalizations and deaths, and protect public health. To date, only 55.9% of New Hampshire’s total population has been fully vaccinated, and infection rates continue to climb. If the tide is going to be turned and lives saved, a thoughtful approach must be taken to reach meaningful solutions.
“New Hampshire hospitals and their health care heroes have seen first-hand the devastating impact of COVID-19 on their patients and the nearly two thousand Granite Staters we’ve lost to COVID-19,” said Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association. “Protecting ourselves and our loved ones with the COVID-19 vaccine reinforces that the health and safety of our patients is core to our mission and at the forefront of all that we do, and we encourage those who haven’t to get vaccinated to protect themselves as well.”
“We are proud to support this important effort to protect a business’s right to determine their own policies when it comes to protecting the health and safety of their employees and customers,” said David Juvet, Senior Vice President of Public Policy & Interim President of Business & Industry Association of New Hampshire.
"Well over 90% of nurses in New Hampshire are vaccinated and we continue to make every effort to provide up to date information on our website in attempt to counter any misinformation that may be circulating. NHNA supports the nurses of NH and understands the stress that this pandemic has caused,” stated Pam Dinapoli, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Nurses Association with over 40 years of experience as a Nurse.
“Hospitals in our state are at a crisis level. Our Emergency Rooms and ICUs are full and patients are sicker than ever. This spike is driven largely by patients who are not vaccinated. We will always do everything we can for our community, but we need help,” said Alex Walker, President and CEO of Catholic Medical Center. “We need the public and policy makers to know the role they can play in stopping this pandemic and we need them to hear what our unwavering doctors and nurses experience every day. The Healthy 603 Coalition will play an important role in sending that message.”
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact families, communities, and businesses across New Hampshire, now is the time to protect and strengthen our public health infrastructure and health care systems,” offered Kate Frey, Vice President of Advocacy, New Futures.
"Getting vaccinated and boosted are the most important actions our citizens can take to protect the lives of ourselves and our family members and end this pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines have been evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials and continue to be studied extensively under real-world conditions, and their record of proven safety and effectiveness is unwavering: They prevent individuals from becoming seriously ill and dying from the virus. In New Hampshire, over 40% of ICU beds are currently being used for COVID-19-related illnesses, and 85% of those patients are unvaccinated – this puts enormous pressure on our entire health care system and prevents our neighbors and loved ones from getting the care they need. Let’s work together to get out of this pandemic," said Kristine Stoddard, Senior Director, NH Public Policy, Bi-State Primary Care Association.
The Healthy 603 Coalition’s members include:
Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital
American Cancer Society Action Network
Androscoggin Valley Hospital
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
AVA Gallery and Art Center
Bi-State Primary Care Association
Building Community in New Hampshire
Business and Industry Association (BIA)
Capitol Center for the Arts
Canterbury Shaker Village
Catholic Medical Center
Catholic Charities New Hampshire
Cheshire Medical Center
Claremont Opera House
Currier Museum of Art
Concord Hospital – Laconia/Franklin
Concord Community Music School
Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital
Granite State Home Health & Hospice Association.
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
Healthcare Voices of New Hampshire
Littleton Regional Healthcare
League of NH Craftsmen
Manchester Historic Association and Millyard Museum
Monadnock Community Hospital
NAMI New Hampshire
New Hampshire Hospital Association
New Hampshire Independent Pharmacy Association
New Hampshire Medical Society
New Hampshire Nurses Association
New Hampshire Music Festival
New London Hospital
New London Barn Playhouse
Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital
Southern New Hampshire Medical Center
Speare Memorial Hospital
St Joseph Hospital/Covenant Health
Symphony New Hampshire
The Music Hall
Tupelo Music Hall
The Board and Staff of Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music
Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital
Valley Regional Hospital
Weeks Medical Center
WellSense Health Plan
YMCA Alliance of Northern New England