Many COVID-19 booster doses administered in New Hampshire are being incorrectly tracked by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention as first doses of the vaccine.
The CDC confirmed to NHPR that it can’t accurately track booster doses in New Hampshire due to linkage issues with the state of New Hampshire’s immunization information system, which currently can’t access data from pharmacies.
The linkage issue means the state is also unable to track booster shots or the overall vaccination rate accurately. The inability of the state to include pharmacy data in its database is largely due to its new and underfunded vaccine registry system.
The CDC says they can update records as data are fixed locally. But, with funding needed to improve the system at the state level in limbo, it’s unclear when the tracking issues could be resolved.
The inaccurate data means the CDC is not only miscounting booster doses, but the rate of first COVID shots is becoming increasingly, and artificially, inflated. The same tracking issue seems to have occurred when third doses for the severely and moderately immunocompromised were approved back in August.
While the population eligible for the third shot was small, there was a bump in first shot administration right around the time third doses were approved, suggesting some third shots were being incorrectly tracked as first shots.
The CDC information also shows New Hampshire as having the lowest rate in the country of fully vaccinated residents who have received a booster shot, at 2.6 percent.
The combination of high rates of first dose uptake, contrasting with what providers across the state report seeing, and a strikingly low booster administration rate, suggests the tracking issue may apply to tens of thousands of booster shots in New Hampshire.
As of Nov. 3, the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccination map shows that more than 77 percent of Granite Staters have received at least one shot of the vaccine, a number that has spiked since the CDC approved boosters in late September.
Meanwhile, the fully vaccinated rate continues to hover at around 63 percent, according to CDC data.
This article is being shared by a partner in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.