COVID-19 vaccine

Anyone 16 or older will soon be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine in New Hampshire, regardless of residency, Gov. Chris Sununu announced Thursday afternoon.

This expanded eligibility is effective April 19, Sununu said at a news conference, noting that the vaccine has been more available in New Hampshire than expected.

“We just had so much more availability,” Sununu said. “We’re going to have a lot of vaccine here, so we want to get it out to anyone who might actually be here in the state.”

Thursday’s announcement follows criticism from state Democrats and college-town leaders about the fact that the vaccine hadn’t been offered to college students who are living in New Hampshire but aren’t full-time state residents.

All New Hampshire residents 16 and older have been eligible for the vaccine since last Friday.

In a joint statement issued Monday, several Democratic senators, including Sen. Jay Kahn, of Keene, urged Sununu to expand vaccine access to out-of-state students living in New Hampshire. They said making those students travel long distances to get vaccinated would hinder efforts to end the pandemic.

“College students spend the majority of their year, and in many cases their entire year, in New Hampshire studying, working, and contributing to the local economy,” the joint statement said. “By excluding certain students from the state’s vaccination plan and encouraging them to cross state borders multiple times to receive a vaccination, we are prolonging the effects of the virus here in New Hampshire and delaying our return to normal.”

Out-of-state students account for more than half of Keene State College’s student body, according to the college’s Factbook.

“We are strongly encouraging our college community members to get vaccinated as soon as they can,” Keene State spokeswoman Kelly Ricaurte said in an email after Sununu’s announcement. “We are pleased to let all of our students know that they can get vaccinated here in New Hampshire as well.”

Mia Summerson can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or Follow her on Twitter