Home News COVID-19 Situation State increases vaccine reach with mobile team

State increases vaccine reach with mobile team

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The state of New Mexico is getting increasing amounts of COVID-19 vaccine doses almost every week, but state health officials said Wednesday they cannot yet say when the state will open up the next phase of eligibility.

The state is also now making an effort to bring the vaccine to people in rural, hard-to-reach areas with a mobile team, working with other state and federal agencies.

Dr. Laura Parajón, deputy secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health, said in a livestreamed press conference Wednesday afternoon the state received 96,000 total doses of the three types of vaccines approved for use in the United States — from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Next week New Mexico is slated to receive 94,820 doses, and the week of March 28 will get 97,160.

She broke down this week’s shipment further, saying that of the Pfizer vaccines, 28,080 were first doses and 24,570 booster doses. Of the Moderna vaccine, 20,500 were first doses and 20,500 boosters. The state also received 2,400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose for full vaccination.

The state is still in Phases 1a and the first two 1b subgroups of its vaccination plan. Group 1a mainly consists of health care workers. The eligible subgroups in 1b are those 75 and older, educators and education staff, and those age 16 or older with chronic health conditions. In the latter group, the state has recently begun to prioritize those age 60 and older for appointments.

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“When we’re going to open up the next phase will depend on how much more vaccine we get each week,” Secretary of Health Dr. Tracie Collins said in Wednesday’s press conference. “We’ll know moving forward about how much more we can open it up in the month of April.”

Parajón and Collins spoke about the health department’s efforts to bring equity to the state’s vaccination plan.

In New Mexico, as across the country, those identified as Hispanic or Latino, Black or African American, and Native American have had disproportionately higher percentages of cases of COVID-19, Parajón said. People living in poverty have also been affected at higher rates, she said.

One aspect of the NMDOH plan is to identify communities that are high socially vulnerable areas, Parajón said.

The Centers for Disease Control uses a social vulnerability index that examines statistics such as housing and transportation; minority status and how well English is spoken; the composition of household members including age, disability or single-parent homes; and economic status such as income, employment and education.

“If you look at it from a community-based perspective, our team is working hard to look at maps, and we’re working in coordination with FEMA, with National Guard, with community partners to allocate in areas of higher social vulnerability, because that way we can reduce death and disease,” Parajón said.

The state health department, working with the National Guard, has begun to deploy mobile vaccination teams to reach rural, difficult-to-reach areas with a high social vulnerability index.

The team consists of medics and administration staff in two vans and a pickup that also carry the vaccines, personal protective equipment, radios and laptops, she said.

Tuesday, the mobile team was in Luna County, where there is a high percentage of Hispanic and Latino people as well as those age 75 and older. The team gave 200 vaccines Tuesday and will return next week, Parajón said.

“As we get more and more vaccine, we’ll be able to do more mobile clinics,” she said.

She said the Department of Health will also seek input from communities on what needs they have.

“We’re going to continue to do that because I think vaccine equity is a work of all of us to work for the people that need it the most,” she said.

Collins and Parajón also had praise for communities that have shown creativity in getting more people registered with the state for the vaccine, such as in Las Cruces, where booths are set up outside grocery stores to help people register.

Collins noted New Mexico is leading the country in vaccination rate, and Parajón said the creativity of communities is one of the reasons for that.

“I think that’s something we need to do more and more of,” Parajón said. “I think we need to become more and more creative about how we’re reaching people and doing the registration piece of it to get the people we need to get to.”

The state has administered almost 950,000 doses of vaccine as of Wednesday, according to the vaccine dashboard, with 35.4% of residents receiving at least one dose and 20.8% fully vaccinated. The state has received more than 1.1 million doses.

In Chaves County, 25.4% of residents age 16 or older, or 12,576 people, have received at least one dose. Almost 6,000, or 12%, are fully vaccinated.

Daily COVID

numbers

In the NMDOH daily case update for Wednesday, the state reported 255 new cases of COVID-19 in 21 counties, including 10 in Chaves County.

The state’s total number of cases is now 188,907. Chaves County has had 8,701.

Two local men were among the 12 deaths related to COVID-19 reported by the state Wednesday. They were a man in his 60s who had been hospitalized and a man in his 80s who had underlying health conditions.

Among the other deaths, two were from Bernalillo County and the rest from Doña Ana, Lincoln, Los Alamos, Otero, Roosevelt, Sandoval, San Juan and Santa Fe counties.

The total number of deaths in the state is 3,872 including 160 in Chaves County.

As of Wednesday, 123 people are hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19.

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/.

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