Bill James

RiverMead CEO Bill James receives a COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday. The senior-living community in Peterborough said vaccines were given that day to all staff and to residents of its assisted living and memory care units.

Close to 4,000 health care workers in New Hampshire have gotten their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, state officials said Tuesday.

About 4,500 doses were distributed last week to all of the state’s hospitals, and more than 3,800 of their frontline workers have been vaccinated so far, according to Elizabeth R. Daly, chief of the state’s infectious disease bureau.

Tens of thousands more doses are expected over the coming weeks. But state officials are reminding the public that the pandemic is far from over.

“It’s going to take us several months to get all who want to be vaccinated vaccinated,” Daly said, “and this means that we must remain vigilant in the steps we take as individuals to prevent COVID-19.”

This week, New Hampshire received 24,200 doses of the newly approved Moderna vaccine, about half of which will go to hospitals for their workers, Daly said. The rest will be used to equip fixed vaccination sites and mobile teams that will start vaccinating ambulatory health care workers and first responders next week.

Daly asked those people not to contact the state yet about registering for vaccination. The state is working directly with first-responder agencies, and will announce when it is ready to start registering health care workers outside of hospitals.

Meanwhile, the latest shipment of 8,875 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be used to start vaccinating residents and staff at long-term care facilities, as part of a joint initiative between the federal government and CVS and Walgreens, Daly said. That effort began Monday.

Both vaccines require a second shot weeks after the first.

RiverMead, a senior-living community in Peterborough, said vaccines were given Tuesday to all staff and to residents of its assisted living and memory care units.

The first round of vaccinations at the county-run Maplewood Nursing Home in Westmoreland is scheduled for Jan. 4, according to Cheshire County Administrator Chris Coates.

Gov. Chris Sununu said the state hopes to give everyone in its highest-priority group, known as Phase 1a, at least the first shot by mid- to late-January. That group includes frontline health care workers in hospitals and other settings, first responders, and staff and residents in long-term care institutions like nursing homes.

In the meantime, Sununu urged residents to keep up measures like social distancing and mask wearing, and limit their travel and gatherings this holiday season. While the vaccine rolls out across the state, those measures remain essential tools to fight the virus’ spread.

“Now is the time to stay most disciplined,” he said.

In other news, Sununu said many COVID-19 testing sites will start prioritizing testing for students, teachers and staff when they have symptoms. That will allow them to get results within 24 hours or so, rather than waiting days to return to school, he said.

Paul Cuno-Booth can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or pbooth@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @PCunoBoothKS