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Local vaccination rate increasing

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Just over 10% of the population of Chaves County has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of Friday afternoon, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

An ultra-low temperature freezer now at the Southeast New Mexico Department of Health office might not necessarily mean the region will have more access to the vaccine, however, an NMDOH spokesperson said.

The vials containing the Pfizer vaccine must be kept at -94 degrees while the Moderna vaccine has to be stored at -4 degrees.

“I don’t know that it will necessarily change the number of vaccines that you get. It might. We’re trying to get more,” James Walton, a communications specialist with the NMDOH in Santa Fe, said Friday.

“Having the freezer in your area could possibly mean that we get more vaccines. It’s just we need to get approved with the federal government,” he said.

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The state has received as of Friday 278,800 doses and administered 248,183, according to the NMDOH COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, placing it among the top five states in the nation, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.

Friday’s update of the NMDOH COVID-19 vaccine dashboard showed 6,783 people in Chaves County were either partially or fully vaccinated. That’s nearly double what the dashboard showed Thursday — 3,444 people.

That ranks Chaves County 13th in the state for the percent of the population that has been partially or fully vaccinated.

The state’s vaccination plan is still in the beginning of Phase 1B, meaning people age 75 or older and those 16 and older with underlying medical conditions that place them at risk are eligible for the vaccine.

Those groups are in addition to those in Phase 1A, which includes hospital personnel, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, medical first responders, congregate setting workers and other medical providers providing direct medical care.

The state has administered a total of 248,183 vaccines including 197,593 first doses and 50,590 second doses.

More than 544,000 people are registered for the vaccine, so patience is needed, Walton said.

“Just hang in there, be patient, we’ll get to you,” he said.

Once people get notification they are eligible, they should get their vaccine as soon as possible, he said.

“Don’t put it off, don’t procrastinate. We want you to get your vaccine so that we can move to the next phases, which will start to open things up,” he said.

Walton said it’s important to remember that even those who have received the vaccine should continue COVID-safe practices such as wearing a mask, frequent hand washing and social distancing.

It can take up to a few weeks for the body to build immunity after receiving the vaccine, according to the CDC, and it is not yet known if the vaccine will prevent transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“As soon as you get your shot, you don’t drop your mask. You still need to allow that to work,” Walton said.

“It’s still not known how long it lasts. We also are still learning about the variants. We know that the vaccine is covering the most heinous of variants,” he said.

More information on the vaccine can be found at cv.nmhealth.org.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.