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State is administering 9,000 doses daily of COVID-19 vaccine


“New Mexico is pulling into the lead in our battle against coronavirus,” New Mexico Human Services Department Sec. Dr. David Scrase said at a COVID-19 and vaccine webinar he held Feb. 3 with New Mexico Department of Health Sec.-designate Dr. Tracie Collins.

Scrase and Collins said New Mexico is administering about 9,000 doses of vaccine a day, which is double the number of three weeks ago. They said the state received 56,000 COVID-19 doses of the vaccine this week and expects 59,500 next week.

As of Feb. 3, 291,742 doses of vaccine have been administered throughout the state, including 224,636 primary doses and 67,106 booster doses. Collins said about 800,000 of the state’s estimated 2.11 million residents want to get the vaccine.

Percentages of residents receiving the vaccine vary widely among counties: 9.2 percent of Doña Ana County residents had been fully or partially vaccinated as of Feb. 3, compared to 16.8 percent in Bernalillo County, 24.4 percent in Santa Fe County, six percent in Valencia County, 13 percent in San Juan County, 10.1 percent in Otero County and 6.3 percent in Eddy County.

Collins said a number of factors account for the discrepancies, including the percentages of those who currently qualify to receive the vaccine and provider capacity. She said the state “has a team in place” to evaluate what’s going on” in each county in terms of vaccinations.

Currently, the demand for the vaccine “far outpaces the supply,” Scrase said. By the beginning summer, however, that trend likely will change and the state “will need to market good reasons why people should get the vaccine,” he said.

Those currently eligible to receive the vaccine in New Mexico are hospital personnel, residents and staff of long-term care facilities (LTCF), medical first responders, congregate setting workers, persons providing direct medical care and other in-person services, home-based health care and hospice workers, people age 75 and older and people age 16 and older who are at risk of COVID complications.

Collins said there are 20,707 LTCF residents in the state, approximately 138,000 health care workers, 151,653 New Mexicans age 75 and older and 590,472 state residents age 16 and older with comorbidities.

Scrase said the number of COVID-19 positive cases continues to decline in all regions of the state after a four-month spike.

“It feels like the beginning of a fourth-quarter comeback,” he said. “Getting this vaccine out to the public is really starting to pay off.”

Scrase said the state has seen a “profound drop-off” not only in COVID-19 cases but also in hospitalizations and deaths related to the virus. As a result, he said, some hospital workers are getting their first time off in 11 months.

Scrase said New Mexico is “just doing great on testing,” and is third behind Connecticut and Illinois among all states in its COVID-19 testing rate.

Scrase said health officials have found more than 60 variants of COVID-19 in the state, but none of them “are making the news” because they are not spreading more rapidly or causing more deaths or hospitalizations. He also noted that “the rate of reinfection is very rare.”

Scrase also said he doesn’t think the “virus is choking itself out. New Mexicans are choking it out” by continuing safe practices, including wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding gatherings of more than five people. Scrase recommends wearing a three-layer mask: two cloth layers with a polypropylene layer in the middle.

Visit cvvaccine.nmhealth.org/public-dashboard.html and cvprovider.nmhealth.org/public-dashboard.html.