Gov. Chris Sununu further explained his criticism of President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccination mandate during his press briefing on Wednesday afternoon but kept the door open for legislative action on a state or federal level that could force employees to take the shot.

It was the governor's first COVID-19 briefing in September, a month which has seen the number of cases increase because of the Delta variant. The briefing was also his first in-person appearance since he was treated for a bleeding ulcer during the Labor Day weekend.

One thing that has not changed in that time is his support for the COVID-19 vaccine.

"COVID is going to be around for some time. Perhaps years. So the best thing you can do is get vaccinated. We talk about the safety of it, we talk about the availability of it. It's the single best tool you can use to protect you, your family and your community," Sununu said.

Despite Sununu's support for the vaccine he sees it as a personal choice that should not be mandated by any one person in the government, including the President.

"You can’t just ignore the individual rights of our citizens. Look, I get angry when
I see a lot of people not vaccinated. I want everybody vaccinated but that doesn’t
mean that the ends always justify those means," Sununu said. "There is also an
understanding that individuals do have individual rights and I have a job to also
protect those individual rights."

Once it becomes clear how the mandate will be administered, Sununu said state law can't stop it. But he is working with other governors on possible legal action.

However, Sununu would support legislative action to create a vaccination requirement in the Granite State.

"If the New Hampshire legislature says, 'You know, we’re going to mandate vaccines, the COVID vaccine for schools, they have every right to do so. I imagine that’ll probably happen at some point," Sununu said.

Sununu is concerned about mandates for medical professionals, especially nurses, that could lead some to quit their jobs creating more staffing problems at already burdened hospitals.

"Folks are going to walk away from health care and you can’t just go hire someone from Home Depot," Sununu said. "When you lose a nurse, that has a long-term repercussion. You have to take years potentially to build that one individual back."

Sununu is also concerned that staffing issues will make a surge he predicts for the winter worse than last year.

To alleviate already existing staffing issues, state officials will keep issuing temporary licenses for nurses from out of state or who have retired in the past three years. Student licenses will also be offered to students in the last days of their education.

The governor said that his bout with a bleeding ulcer showed him that he and others need to relax and realize things could be worse.

"I just ask folks to take a breath. Don’t get riled up over every Tweet that comes out or every issue that might come because you don’t know what’s going to come tomorrow, right?" Sununu said.

A team of analysts has found that Granite Staters are reporting the second-lowest levels of pandemic-related anxiety and depression in the country.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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